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WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY SCULPTURE TOUR

Freya

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Freya

Artist - Gerhard Marcks
Born - 1889
Died - 1955
Origin - Germany
Year Built - 1949

About the Artist:  Gerhard Marcks was one of the foremost sculptors of Weimar Germany. He began his studies in 1908 with sculptor Richard Scheibe (1879-1964). Marcks enlisted in 1912 and spent much of the next six years in the armed services. After the conclusion of World War I, Walter Gropius invited Marcks to join the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919 where he headed ceramics. The Bauhaus was known for its progressive instruction and emphasis on modern design, but by 1925 Marcks felt that he had little more to gain from his position. The sculptor resigned, taking a position at the Kunstgewerbeschule Burg Giebichenstein (School of Arts and Technology) near Halle shortly thereafter. In 1933, the Nazi government dismissed Marcks from the school, arguing that his modernist sympathies were decadent and counter to the Fascist agenda. In 1937, Marcks's work was included in the government's Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition, which condemned modern art. Thereafter, the government forbade the sculptor to exhibit his work. Following the fall of the Nazi regime at the conclusion of World War II, Marcks was appointed to the faculty of the Landeskunstschule in Hamburg, where he remained until 1950. He moved to Cologne that same year, after executing a monument to Cologne's war dead.

In his later career, Marcks looked primarily to the simplification and subtle abstraction of Archaic Greek sculpture for inspiration. Following a 1928 visit to Greece, the sculptor began to concentrate on essential form, stripping away excess detail. The contemporary German painter, Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956), characterized Marcks's sculpture as capable of "translating nature into pure essentials in order to reveal its deep character." In Freya, 1949, Marcks takes the Norse goddess of love as his subject. The reduction of detail in the sculpture results in smooth planes and the naive handling of facial features, such as the almond-shaped eyes and the ovoid face. Mutter mit Kind, 1957, possesses a vaguely Christian appearance with a composition similar to Medieval and Renaissance depictions of the Madonna and Christ child. Marcks's mother wears a veil similar to that of Mary's. The child was cast as an independent sculpture the same year under the title Sitzendes Kleinkind (Sitting Baby). The composition is similar to his Madonna, 1952, although the earlier sculpture wears elaborate garments and a crown.