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The enternal theme

Nudes in the Gottorf Sculpture Park

THE NORTHERNMOST OF THE LARGE MUSEUMS IN GERMANY IS THE STIFTUNG SCHLESWIGHOLSTEINISCHE LANDESMUSEEN SCHLOSS GOTTORF IN SCHLESWIG, THE LARGEST ART MUSEUM BETWEEN HAMBURG AND COPENHAGEN.

It’s housed in the for­mer resi­dence of the dukes of Got­torf on an island at the far­t­hest point of the Schlei estua­ry which flows into the Bal­tic Sea. For cen­tu­ries, the land stret­ching bet­ween the seas was ruled from here. Now, the cast­le, its sta­bles and the 800 sqm riding hall is dedi­ca­ted to cul­tu­re: with archaeo­lo­gi­cal collec­tions such as the lar­ge Nydam ship and the famous bog bodies, the exhi­bi­ti­on spans the art and cul­tu­ral histo­ry of the north, ran­ging from the Midd­le Ages to modern and con­tem­pora­ry art. The grounds of the cast­le island and the adja­cent baro­que gar­den, which fea­tures the Got­torf Glo­be in a sepa­ra­te house, have beco­me a sculp­tu­re park thanks to the instal­la­ti­on of over 50 lar­ge sculp­tures most­ly from the 20th and 21st cen­tu­ries. They’re scat­te­red around the exten­si­ve grounds in front of the cast­le faça­de and in front of the castle’s lake, allowing them to shi­ne against a beau­ti­ful back­drop and ‘inter­act’ with one another.

The ‘Tor­so’ by Hans Mar­tin Ruwoldt (1891–1969) was crea­ted in 1932, and depicts the fema­le body in an extre­me­ly sim­pli­fied form. Ruwoldt was trai­ned during the Art Nou­veau peri­od and later beca­me known for his ani­mal sculp­tures. Karl August Ohrt (1902–1993) took the tea­chings of Cubism to heart, imbibing his por­tra­yal of a cou­p­le from 1961, ‘Tor­so M, Tor­so W’, the gre­at for­ce of non-repre­sen­ta­tio­nal blocks while still suc­cee­ding in expres­sing femi­ni­ne grace and male seve­ri­ty in the blocks’ volumes.

Gus­tav Seitz (1906–1969) crea­ted ‘Flens­burg Venus’ in 1963, while his con­tem­pora­ry from Munich, sculp­tor Hans Wim­mer (1907–1992) crea­ted ‘Des­de­mo­na’ in 1976. The older sculp­tu­re appears to be the more modern of the two, if you use abs­trac­tion as your yard­stick. The figu­re tru­ly expe­ri­en­ces a dizzy­ing cre­scen­do. Star­ting from its small feet, the body ‘leaps’ up across the thighs to the enor­mous mid­sec­tion of the body. The migh­ty jag­ged back is a striking reflec­tion of this form. Only a small arm sup­ports the figu­re, a pri­mor­di­al mother and a mer­maid, becau­se her skin con­den­ses in pla­ces into scales.

Des­de­mo­na’, lying on the grass, repres­ents Shakespeare’s tra­gic figu­re after her assas­si­na­ti­on. All her clas­si­cal beau­ty blossoms in this death, and she needs a sup­port under her arm­pit, generous­ly pro­vi­ded by the sculp­tor. But here, too, we find an expres­si­ve overstret­ching (in the neck) that would have been rejec­ted and frow­ned upon by aca­de­mic sculp­tors. Visi­tors to Got­torf will find a faith­ful repli­ca of Hans Wimmer’s stu­dio con­tai­ning his com­ple­ted and unfi­nis­hed works as well as theo­ri­gi­nal inventory.

Fritz Fleer (1921–1997) was Edwin Scharff’s stu­dent, but was also influ­en­ced by Ger­hard Marcks, for whom he cast bron­ze figu­res at a young age. His ‘Gre­at Ath­le­te’ from 1985 recalls Greek-archaic figu­res from the 6th cen­tu­ry BC but can also be exp­lai­ned by the typi­cal con­den­sa­ti­on of forms found in the modern abs­tract. Fleer’s other male and fema­le nude figu­res can also be found in Got­torf Park.

Along with Edgar Augus­tin (1936–1996), Klaus Küte­m­ei­er (1939–2013) was among the best of Gus­tav Seitz’s stu­dents. Kütemeier’s gra­ni­te ‘Kne­e­ling Fema­le Figu­re’ was crea­ted bet­ween 1981 and 1983 and pro­ves his skill as a true stone sculp­tor. He cer­tain­ly paid atten­ti­on to anci­ent Egyp­ti­an models, but here he crea­ted a modern type of woman remi­nis­cent of archi­tec­tu­ral forms and trans­forms the Egyp­ti­an desi­re for eter­ni­ty into a modern examp­le. Some other major works by Küte­m­ei­er can also be seen in Got­torf Castle’s park.

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Geboren 1953 in Braunschweig. Studium der Kunstgeschichte in Würzburg, München und Braunschweig. Forschungen und Publikationen zur Architektur und Skulptur des Mittelalters in Frankreich, Italien und Deutschland sowie zu Kunst, Fotografie und Kunsthandwerk des 20. Jahrhunderts und der Gegenwart. Seit 1986 am Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte in der Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen Schloss Gottorf in Schleswig. Kommissarischer Direktor 2009 und 2011 - 2013.

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