In the Georg Kolbe Museum, a boxwood hedge is getting up to mischief. Standard DIY store plastic pots move across the exhibition space like a nice little train. The exquisite green spheres are trimly trimmed. Unaffected by the severe borer invasion that gives gardeners in historical parks nightmares everywhere.
No, the charming hedge planted by Anne Duk Hee Jordan is advancing unchecked. Will she strike the guest in the shin? The digitally autonomous vehicle doesn’t brake or change course until the very last second.
Director Julia Wallner is tidying up her adjacent study in the meantime. She is relocating to Rolandseck’s Arp Museum. She took over the idyllically located but financially struggling museum at the sculptor Kolbe’s studio home over ten years ago.
She directed the restoration of the monument built in 1927 and mandated an overhaul of the exhibition schedule. She not only persisted in her investigation of the Kolbe archive but also brought modern sculpture within the home.
Too lovely to remain
She must leave because it’s too nice here, says Wallner. Hans Arp, a pioneer of abstraction who naturally has more international appeal than Kolbe, who was born in 1877 and was attached to the figurative, was the subject of her first show in the Kolbe Museum.
Plans for an upcoming exhibition have already been put in a drawer. For instance, in the fall, the complicated relationship between the sculptor and the Nazi dictatorship came to light. Other fundamental concerns are at stake this time.
The exhibition combining the works of Mies van der Rohe, Kolbe, and Lehmbruck with the installations by Anne Duk Hee Jordan is titled “Artificial Biotopes.” It sheds light on the intricate interplay between architectural space, nature, and person. It includes the cheerily careless boxwood hedge. In the main chamber, water is trickling, and a green basin contains floating plants. Clinging to steel girders are slow-growing succulents with aerial roots that hang in the air and don’t require ground contact.
The concepts of the plant kingdom and biomorphic buildings were equally important to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. There were dozens of scientific books in his library. But unlike today, when it is threatened with extinction, nature was more of an aesthetic category for the proponents of classical modernism. The rubber trees strategically positioned throughout the Mies buildings are visible in photographs. Creating the gardens for his clients at the same time made the architect delighted. His signature was to open up the built space with large glass walls.
Nature’s aesthetics to threatened species
Why didn’t Mies also create Kolbe’s home, a sculptor friend of his? He probably wants to make too many decisions on his own. His home’s integration of the inside and the outside is undoubtedly influenced by Mies’ designs. нна DUK Jordan Hee brings it to light. The studio windows’ colored mirror foils isolate the outside view.
Inside, gently turning round mirrors allow the on display Kolbe sculptures to “travel” through the disjointed space in their imaginations. Mirrors are skillfully used to show that the artist was a student of Olafur Eliasson. She also addresses the vulnerability and danger of nature in her works, which was not a pressing concern for Kolbe and company at the time.
The old beech has already grown significantly over the roof, despite the fact that the sculptor kept the thin pine trees on the site when he built his studio home.
In this studio sanctuary, the biotope of organic and geometric shapes is perfectly balanced. Architecture is necessary for Kolbe’s sculptures to have an impact. Mies need sculptors like Kolbe and Lehmbruck as well, though. Only their focused, lean human forms provided his fluid spaces balance and proportion. Photos that fill the wall are enlarged to show it.
At the 1929 World’s Fair, Kolbe’s enormous female sculpture “Morgen” dominated the storied Barcelona Pavilion. This impactful appearance was permanently imprinted in cultural memory. The plaster statue is on exhibit, gracefully extending her arms in the manner of a plant over her head.
Architecture and sculpture require one another.
The works of Wilhelm Lehmbruck are more rigid and brittle. He is included in the exhibition, which had its debut at the Mies-Bau Haus Lange in Krefeld. Kolbe was acquainted with the slightly younger Duisburg artist from his time in Paris. Other than Barlach, Lehmbruck was the only person Kolbe took seriously as a collaborator, according to Julia Wallner. In Berlin, the reclusive Lehmbruck committed suicide in 1919, horrifying the avant-garde.
In a modest exhibition space, the pieces of both sculptors are on display. Both emphasized the thin, androgynous shape of the feminine body. The “Pygmalion Statue” by Lehmbruck has a spine that is pleasantly bent and leans far forward. The torso appears to defy gravity’s laws. Such quiet works’ ability to reveal their aura is partly a result of how well they are balanced. No space for sculpture? That is inconceivable.