Bronze sculpture Height 91.5 cm. Depth 118.5 cm. Length 223 cm. - Greenish-anthracite coloured patina.
The “Große Liegende” of 1951 is among Karl Hartung’s most important works, and he created it in the prime of his artistic development. Karl Hartung had been pursuing the motif of reclining nudes since the 1920s – initially inspired by Maillol, he worked in an increasingly abstract manner as the years progressed. In the 1940s, a period in which Hartung found himself in a veritable frenzy of creativity, he developed a large series of nudes in which he experimented with an extreme variety of formal means of expression. These anthropomorphic figures, some of which diverge substantially from their models in nature, are undoubtedly inspired by the sculptures of Henry Moore. Through publications, Moore's work exercised a great deal of influence on sculpture in Germany after the end of the Second World War. “With regard to the often mentioned and never examined comparison of Karl Hartung’s sculptures with those of Henry Moore, it must be pointed out that Hartung’s reclining nudes, in particular, venture a higher degree of sensual and thus also sexual presence. In other words, Moore’s 'Reclining Figures' approximate idols, as can be demonstrated with his early work through a comparison with pre-Columbian sculptures; in his later archaisms, Moore’s giantesses are forms related to the landscape. In Hartung’s work the sculpted female form remains a woman”, explains Erwin Heizmann in his text written to accompany the major retrospective presented in 1988 at the Galerie Pels-Leusden, where “Große Liegende” was also exhibited (Karl Hartung 1908-1967. Eine Werkübersicht zum 80. Geburtstag, exh. cat. Galerie Pels-Leusden, Berlin 1988, pp. 14 f.). In its incomparably harmonious balance and radiant sensuality, the monumental “Große Liegende”, which measures over two metres in length, is “simultaneously the summation and pinnacle” of this group of works. The bodily forms assembled in an additive manner unite into an elongated, undulating movement made up of limbs resting flat or at an angle; the soft and voluptuous volumes of the body are accentuated through the zigzag articulation of a profile stretched towards the sky. In spite of its static state and abstraction, the dreamily oblivious female figure is brimming with life. “Sculpture is form, nothing else”, said Karl Hartung, whose artistic aspirations were oriented entirely towards generating a form of timeless and holistic harmony based on the model of nature’s creative power.
The bronze was cast at the renowned Fonderia Artistica Mariani in Pietrasanta: the Italian foundry to which Fernando Botero also entrusted the casting of his sculptures. Another cast is to be found as a long-term loan at the Norddeutsche Galerie of the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesmuseum Schloss Gottorf in Schleswig.
We would like to thank the Estate Karl Hartung for kind additional information.
Galerie Pels-Leusden, Berlin/Nachlass Karl Hartung; Dr. Carl-Wilhelm Busse, Bielefeld; Westfalen-Blatt Vereinigte Zeitungsverlage GmbH & Co. KG, Bielefeld