Naked beauty

Naked beauty

Ferdinand lepcke is "a much too little noticed artist", the director of the art collections, klaus weschenfelder, has to state. The first comprehensive exhibition of works by the artist, who was born in coburg and later established himself in berlin, opens at the veste today. And whoever looks at the 35 or so original sculptures assembled here after quite a lot of research work – carried out by the museologist nicky heise – especially in comparison with 20 works by other contemporary artists, can no longer understand why so little attention is later paid to one of the art stars of the imperial era.

The people of coburg know lepcke, encounter him at various locations in the city, the dramatic fountain of the flood in the rose garden of course, the "bogenspannerin in the station street "phryne" in the small rose garden, for example, which does not mean that these images should be given gross attention was given. And that in the "stadtische sammlungen coburg" (coburg municipal collections) a series of wonderful works rest in the depot… Now, at least, they are coming to light, in a meaningful and revealing way, in well-structured contexts.
Nicky heise, klaus weschenfelder and susanne kahler from the kunstgussmuseum lauchhammer, where the exhibition will be shown from may, have written a monograph on lepcke, including a catalogue raisonne. Ferdinand lepcke – a (re)discovery, one could almost say, especially for coburg.

He delivered what they wanted
By structuring the show and comparing it, for example, with sculptures by franz von stuck (1863 – 1928), fritz klimsch (1870 – 1960) and gustav eberlein (1847 – 1926), the art-historical mood of the time is evoked as if in passing. This is very exciting.
Lepcke was also a commercially very successful artist of his time, his bronze casts after plaster models were repeatedly produced in different sizes, handy for the desk, in salon-height for the art-savvy burgerhaus up to the rough format for the public space. Lepcke swung unchecked from the heroic war memorials, which served to establish the identity of the young empire, to tombstones and numerous busts as commissioned works. "Lepcke gave what was asked of him", reports klaus weschenfelder.
But even the few remaining works of this category, not devoured by the war, testify to craftsmanship and artistic depth. The hermenstele of friedrich ruckert, created for the viktoriapark in berlin-kreuzberg in 1898, already goes far beyond the gestures of its time.

A new ideal for women
And then there are the "idealistic" ones, thus freely created bronze lepckes. He developed a new type of woman, slender and girlish, which corresponds to today's ideals. In his vividly tangible, but at the same time reduced, clear form, he points far beyond the individual figure to a degenerate state that is no longer the classical ideal, but something new in its own aura, for which one could perhaps develop a sense again, especially today.
Anyway "eva with the snake" are, the writing, the listening in a highly concentrated, resting status, near and far, free of any "stories". They are.

Wonderful dancing
And then there is also an unbelievable figure, the dancing one, who also bursts this state, jumps into the world in tremendous emphase, pure life. What else could this man, who moved away from coburg when he was only four years old, have brought to the city and left it a legacy?? Or was he willingly absorbed in the following spirit? He was spared this decision by his early death in 1909 at the age of only 42 years. We were left with a work whose beauty has yet to be discovered, a beauty to which we must first find our way again.


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