Gerd Arntz - Spiegel
Painted printing block 35.6 x 23.4 cm Framed. Signed, dated and titled 'Arntz 25 Spiegel' in black verso on printing block in the rejected design of the same motif and numbered "7" and "VII" twice in pencil. - With few fine vertical tension cracks. A minimal loss of colour in outer right margin.
With: woodcut on thin Japan paper. 35.6 x 24 cm (43.3 x 31.4 cm). Framed under glass. Signed, dated, numbered and titled 'Arntz 25 SPIEGEL (1-10) K "Spiegel" 10 Dr'. In fine condition.
Like the work of his fellow artists and friends Franz W. Seiwert and Heinrich Hoerle, the works of Gerd Arntz were also made with a commitment to changing social and societal realities; they venture an attempt at nothing less than a synthesis of art and revolutionary politics. The notion that the new classless society would need new artistic forms of expression for this seemed obvious to the artists of the group “Kölner Progressive”. The radicalness with which Arntz sought new paths in art is demonstrated not least by his work in an intermediate realm between printmaking, painting and sculpture.
For Gerd Arntz the sculptural work on the printing block and the print were inseparably intertwined. Arntz said of his work that, for him, the “sculptural feeling is more important than the printing […] for a long time, I only worked on the blocks, without wanting to make impressions.” (Gerd Arntz, Autobiographischer Abriss, in: Ausstellung Arntz Holzschnitte, exhib. cat. Neuer Buchladen, Cologne 1925, no pag.). The artist actually did produce his prints only in very small editions of usually five to fifteen impressions and then dedicated his attention to the further composition of the printing block. Our work strikingly demonstrates that this treatment went far beyond simply painting the block after the fact - the mirror motif which gave the work its title is rendered even more potent through the reflection on the process of inversion during printing. Arntz has not only added colour to the block, he has also expanded it into a relief: its sculptural elaboration in the area of the breast, leg and belly enhance the three-dimensionality of the work and particularly underscore that sensual aspect of the forms which was so important to the artist.
In a catalogue produced in 1926 on the occasion of an exhibition at the Richmod-Galerie Casimir Hagen in Cologne, Gerd Arntz offered a succinct summary: “What is important to me: strict utilisation of the simple possibilities of the wooden panel and the plane. Results: a graphic art without chance elements and a three-dimensional image: both are good means to transformatively, concisely and emphatically present the manifestations of our lives.” (Exhib. cat. Richmod Galerie Kasimir Hagen, Cologne 1926. Cited in: exhib. cat. Gerd Arntz - Augustin Tschinkel, Galerie Glöckner, Cologne 2010/11, p. 5).
List of works
Broos-Bool 71 (woodcut)
Richmod Galerie Casimir Hagen, Cologne (adhesive label "Frau bei der Toilette" verso on printing block); Private collection, Rhineland
Cologne 2008 (Museum Ludwig), köln progessiv. seiwert - hoerle - arntz, cat. no. 81/82 with illus. p. 63