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Retrospective at Museum Folkwang features 120 works by Hans Josephsohn

The sculptor worked largely from models, always seeking the perfect balance for each work between figuration and abstraction.


ESSEN.- Museum Folkwang is presenting a retrospective on Swiss artist Hans Josephsohn (1920–2012), featuring 120 of his works. Josephsohn is one of the major sculptors of European Modernism, and throughout his life grappled almost exclusively with the human figure and its sculptural composition. This will be the largest Josephsohn exhibition ever held in Germany.

In his work, Josephsohn concentrated on a few fundamental forms of the human physique: the head, the half figure, the standing figure, and the reclining figure. “Sculpture cannot do much,” he once said. Nevertheless, he strove throughout his life to capture human existence through the means of sculpture. The search for the correct form defined his work.

The sculptor worked largely from models, always seeking the perfect balance for each work between figuration and abstraction. Some of his early works are like slender stelae, while others deliver more accurate reflections of the facial features and postures of their models. In contrast, Josephsohn’s late half figures are powerful, monumental works, in which the bodily forms can only be intuited.

In his reliefs as well, which depict the dynamic of human relationships and conflicts, he also dispensed with detailed portrayals. And it is perhaps for this reason that the tension between his figures, with their rough brass surfaces, becomes literally tangible. In the exhibition, 40 reliefs and relief sketches – like little sculptural notes – reveal Josephsohn’s profound preoccupation with human interaction.

The retrospective Existential Sculpture brings together more than 70 sculptures and reliefs in brass, including a number of large-scale works. Alongside Josephsohn’s early sculptures from the 1950s, his brilliant late works from the 1990s onwards will also be presented extensively. A total of 50 plaster models and drawings spanning all of Josephsohn’s creative periods will also shed light on his working methods.





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April 2, 2018

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