Friday, July 28, 2006

Joachim Karsch (1897-1945) - the other German sculpture

There's the German classicism of Adolph Von Hildebrand (and his better known protege, Georg Kolbe) -- but then there's the expressionism of Lehmbruch -- and the newly discovered (for me) Joachim Karsch.

When classicism goes bad -- it's stiff and boring -- but when expressionism goes bad, it's really bad -- it's creepy/ugly. So I think there's more of a risk involved -- and when successfull -- more of a thrill.

And I'm thrilled by Joachim Karsch ! Thanks, mostly, to his octagenarian son, Florian, who has a gallery that specializes in German expressionism - and who has photographed and catalogued his father's work. (Here's his website.)

I don't know if the above is supposed to be an Adam & Eve -- but that's how it works for me -- where the beauty of the their presence is not the beauty of a god or godess.

This is the kind of figure I'm always doing - and it's so nice to see a figure so alive -- in the moment.

This is the piece that first caught my attention -- pulled out of a book sometime last year -- and a bit more somber and medieval

This one has an interesting story: it's a portrait of the lecturer/novelist John Cowper Powys -- who seems to have been a kind of eccentric stoic-taoist Thoreau type whose writing greatly appealed to the sculptor -- who began a correspondance with him and did this portrait from photographs and imagination.

And this might be the place to note that most of Karsch's sculpture and writing was lost - along with his life -- following the Russian invasion that engulfed eastern Germany at the end of the war.

Something about the big sad head and the angular, stylized body really appeals to me -- I guess I'm just a Northern-European guy.

Something else to think about -- it doesn't look like Karsch was a modern art-star or making either public monuments or art-deco collectibles -- so I'm wondering just how much of an income he had from sculpture. Perhaps a family fortune made him financially independant.

This is an exciting period of my life -- every week I discover another sculptor that I really like. How many more are left to be discovered -- and how many more weeks have I got left?


Blogger Gawain said...

Well, the excitement is really catchy. How do you discover all these guys? This guy is amazing -- i think of all the sculpture on your site, i like this the best. How beautiful.

July 29, 2006  
Blogger shilgia said...

Very beautiful.

August 03, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

I wouldn't have guessed that Sir G., or anyone else for that matter, would find this sculpture so attractive. The most popular German sculptor from period --at least on the internet - is Arnold Breker.

But since you do like him -- what do you think of my favorite Austrian,
Anton Hanak ? Hopefully, someday, someone will post fresh photos of his work to replace the grainy photos I scanned from dusty old books.

August 04, 2006  
Blogger shilgia said...

I don't like the expression in most of these sculptures (by Hanak, I mean). They are either passive or forcefully aggressive, and I also don't like their physique. They repell me.

Very different from the very human, moving expression in your pictures of the work of Joachmi Karsch

Can you explain what it is you like about the work of Anton Hanak, Chris?

Now I'm curious too what Gawain says.

August 04, 2006  
Blogger Gawain said...

Hm... I'm with Shilgia here... But I need more than a cursory look to give you a considered opinin, I'll be back in a day or two to give you the fruits of my mind in this matter...

August 06, 2006  
Blogger Gawain said...

PS This is all pretty new to me (except the Chola bronzes and classicla greek stuff I am in idiot in sculpture).

Where can i see more of Arnold Breker?

August 06, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Arno Breker can be found here

I like Hanak's figures because they feel like people who are just a bit puzzled / uncomfortable with their big bodies and life on this planet. The statues aren't awkward -- but the people are -- so I think it goes right along with the Vienna of Sigmund Freud. A tribute to the difficulty of being human.

I don't like Arno Breker's males because they feel like steroid crazed adolescents who have grown big bodies but little minds -- and are likely to be found in bath houses slapping towels at each others behinds. They've never matured into adult self awareness -- what they see is what there is -- the perfect devotional statuary for Ayn Rand objectivists. And I don't like his female figures because they seem empty -- souless -- sexless.
But they do seem so immersed in the one of the great human tragedies -- I would travel some distance to see an exhibit of them.

August 07, 2006  

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