Without a doubt, Hermann Glöckner (1889 Dresden-1987 West Berlin) is today one of the exceptional artists among the avant-gardists of German classical modernism. Despite adverse political circumstances during the time of the National Socialist dictatorship and the subsequent GDR regime in East Germany, he was a 'non-conformist' in Dresden, and for decades in seclusion he continuously created an outstanding artistic work that still remains to be discovered.
For a long time, Glöckner's works fascinated artists first and foremost. Hermann Glöckner is still preceded by the noble reputation of an 'artist's artist'. At the same time he stood almost unnoticed by art history in the shadow of the established masters of classical modernism. Only in recent years has his singular artistic contribution been placed across borders in larger art-historical contexts and presented to an international audience as a new discovery.
In the Munich exhibition Hermann Glöckner - A Master of Modernism, examples of his early Tafelwerk from 1930 to 1935 and a group of his Modelli from the 1960s and 1970s, which can be understood as sketches for planned large-format sculptural folds, meet in a synopsis. For the first time, these central work groups of his abstract-constructive œuvre are subjected to a concentrated art-historical examination. Both must be understood as ongoing artistic-conceptual studies that were a source of inspiration of great importance to Hermann Glöckner and at the same time a key to understanding his entire oeuvre.
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Against this background, the selection of the early panels concentrates on the years 1930 to 1935, the period in which Glöckner began to record the vocabulary of his ideas in what was later to be a work of study known as Tafelwerk. The genesis of this work was preceded by a crisis of the artist, after which he found a completely new approach. He will then continue the panel work at longer intervals and in several creative phases, varying and expanding the themes. Glöckner understood the panels as a separate genre. Despite the formal-constructive austerity, her treatment speaks of a playful-intuitive lightness. This supposedly artistic-conceptual dissonance is constitutive for Glöckner's complete works, without which this creative variance of works would be unthinkable. The drawings, monotypes and collages of Hermann Glöckner, which were successively acquired by the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung Munich over the past three years and which exemplarily cover his entire creative period from the 1920s to the 1980s, are displayed in a brilliant group.
The second part of the exhibition is devoted to Hermann Glöckner's Modelli from the 1960s and 1970s. They are the starting point for his three-dimensional folds made of paper, cardboard and paperboard. They would hardly be conceivable without the constructive-artistic research of the early Tafelwerk. At the same time, like the panels, they form a kind of vocabulary and emerge in the context of other spatial-plastic objects. With his own playful consistency, Hermann Glöckner continues his Tafelwerk research in the Modelli. The distance in time between the two groups of works is hardly surprising when one considers that the artist had to take on strenuous practical building tasks in the meantime in order to secure his existence financially.
In their material simplicity, the models still radiate the artistic impartiality of sketches of ideas, in which unconventional artistic experiments can be freely tried out and the great becomes imaginable in the small. In his studio, which was essentially limited to a large room in the Künstlerhaus Dresden-Loschwitz, they were omnipresent on the work tables, and Hermann Glöckner literally immersed himself in this world of ideas.
The fact that Hermann Glöckner's artist's studio, which had not been preserved, represented a unique space for thought and, if you will, a grown organism, is testified to by the vintage photographs on display by Werner Lieberknechts, born in Dresden in 1961. They give us an impression of Glöckner's studio a few months after his death, when the young photographer was given the opportunity in autumn 1987 to document the untouched studio during several visits.
Against the background of this selection of works for the Munich exhibition Hermann Glöckner - A Master of Modernism, it is worth asking whether Hermann Glöckner developed his own extended concept of art with specific laws and rules beyond the classical concept of the work, which overrides the boundaries between "high and low" and once again places him among the first of the innovators among the avant-garde.