Prof. Dr. Matthias Bleyl

Body colour – colour body

Introduction to the book publication “embodying colours”, by Prof. Dr. Matthias Bleyl

In the exhibition embodying colour you will find three-dimensional, coloured Works which, however, originate from very different traditions. During sculptural works with colored version already in the antiquity and since then quite constant, painting that opens up space is a newer form of art. Phenomenon.

The problem of color in sculpture is a very old one – just think of the famous portrait bust of the Egyptian pharaoh’s wife Nefertiti (14th century) B.C.). Even though it was made of colored plastics and the corresponding casting process coloured objects in the substance, is valid in general, that the color of the mold was applied. The form can already be applied in the necessary colour to be added, by making its effect is intended and thought about from the outset. It is not an essential difference, whether a late-Gothic wooden figure in protracted manual labor is a or whether industrially produced objects also receive a coloured version. industrial processes such as anodising or enamelling. Body were given their body colour by means of painting. Colour is added to the form, what may have significant repercussions on them.

Three-dimensional art was colored at almost all times. Today we know that even the longest time was merely considered to be exclusively stoneclear. sculptures and reliefs of antiquity by no means only the most dazzling of all. white marble, but often a not always always only a very restrained chromaticity, which was due to a long habit of vision is just getting used to again today. The same astonishment results, if the water has been washed out and excessively cleaned as a result of the weather Portal Sculptures of the Middle Ages – Viewers Familiar with a Computer Simulation of the original condition on the basis of recent findings. The Middle Ages, the Baroque and the Rococo the colored sculpture was a matter of course, and even the renaissance that followed antiquity cultivated it. The reason for the temporary preference for uncoloured pictures, for instance in the decades around 1800, should be the most important element in the ideologically postulated basic opposition of Idea. and imitation, i.e. from the distinction between ideal art and banal nature to the or in general, as opposed to being and appearing. Were there figures as carriers of a truth that can be generalized, then undefined, thus colored, especially naturalistic figures had to be used as competitors for the to nature and thus to be regarded as superfluous and banal, in the extreme at best good for the brief amazement in the popular wax museum. The basic prerequisite for this was, on the one hand, a representational representation of how it has been practiced unquestioningly over centuries and how it has been of course, it still exists today, and on the other hand, it is important to have the best possible full plastic representation that shares the same existential space with the viewer.

In the modern age, the old division of labour between the carver and the the work of the barrel or ornamental painter, but rather the artists of the 20th century. Both were usually in one person, regardless of whether or not they were a sculptor using paint or a painter penetrating into the third dimension.

Since the abandonment of figurative representation, art, especially three-dimensional art, has had no fear of colour. Since the second decade of the 20th century, at the latest, there have been clearly geometrically influenced sculptures in both Western and Eastern Europe, for which the terms, some of which were coined only later, have concrete and constructive validity. Since the 1960s, however, the appearance of concrete art has expanded considerably – not only, but especially in the field of three-dimensional design – especially as a result of the experience of American Minimal Art. Minimal Art made use of some pictorial strategies that are quite similar to those of concrete art in Europe, e.g. precise, mostly geometric forms, simple mathematical operations and a-compositional structure formations as well as colourings without recognizable traces of manual activity. The resulting novel works were soon referred to as Specific Objects. These objects intended and provided a categorical viewer activation that did not make traditional concrete art possible to this extent and also did not strive for it. She was interested in the exploitation of pictorial possibilities, beyond representation or abstraction, purely by means of concrete means of design (surface, colour, space), as well as their cerebral reproduction. Minimal Art and the currents that can be derived from it, on the other hand, were more concerned with opening up new possibilities of experience for the viewer.

With the abandonment of the human body, even the abstract figure, as the object of representation of sculpture and the mere shaping of the basic elements in the sense of concrete art, the application of colour to sculpture results in a body of colour. What the colour is able to achieve compared to the pure form of the body is illustrated by the thought experiment of imagining the only uniformly neutral form, without any colourful accentuation, whereby the appearance is essentially reduced to space-forming chiaroscuro. Depending on the degree of saturation of the colour to be added, glossy, transparent or absorbent surfaces, partial or full colouring, single or multi-colouring and other factors, very different effects can be produced.

Now there are – not since antiquity, but today just as there are objects with colour – also works of genuine painters, which are not limited to the surface, but unfold in space – beyond their colourfulness or even by means of colourfulness. Something different from colored sculptures can arise when painters are no longer content with the surface as their very own field of development and work with color into space. If the sculptor takes spatial work (with or without paint) for granted, painting remained limited to the surface for centuries. Here, the conquest of real space, in both directions, was anything but a matter of course, and began essentially only in the second half of the 20th century. The Americans Donald Judd and Ellsworth Kelly, among others, had a strong influence on this development. In Germany – apart from the already popular, highly pasty painting of the time – the 1960s saw the emergence of works by Gerhard Hoehme, Gotthard Graubner and Bernhard Schulze, for example, which had a clear object character as color bodies and became characteristic of the work of these then very influential artists. What they had in common was that the objects were not conceived out of form, but out of colour, which was given access to the third dimension out of its own necessity. Since the expansion of the concept of art in the 1960s and afterwards, painting has no longer been limited to the expanded panel painting. In the meantime, the development has been that painting has appropriated three-dimensionality in many ways, be it in the form of free-standing coloured volumes or also by means of spatial painting involving all surfaces, i.e. objects as well as cavities equally. Beyond the application of paint with brushes and spatulas, there are countless modern materials and processing methods today, starting with epoxy resins, fluorescent acrylic glass, silicone and others, up to coloured fluorescent tubes, which almost take the room for granted. The phenomena of colour space are extremely rich when traditional and new materials are used.

What does the spatially staged colour achieve that the surface-related colour of two-dimensional painting does not? First, it reduces the distance between the work and the viewer. In the panel painting, only the frontal approach to the basically manageable surface at a glance makes sense. If, however, the color no longer appears as a surface-limited image, but shares the same real space with the viewer, it can no longer be experienced simultaneously. If an image, at least from a single point of view, can usually be overlooked with a single glance – even if a differentiated view will scan the image surface over a longer period of time – the color that has stepped out into the space can only be grasped fragmentarily and successively. When the viewer experiences a painting that has stepped out into space, he perceives a maximum of colour phenomena in spatial and temporal sequence, much more than a painting limited to the picture rectangle could or even wanted to achieve. While the panel painting tends to fix the viewer in front of himself, he now has to move, take different standpoints and mentally assemble the fragments of perception into a whole. The more reduced the works are in form, the stronger the incentive. This achievement that emerged from Minimal Art with the consequence of increased offers of perception opens up painting to a colourful maximism.


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