Home | Alexander Order | Latest News

Remembering Arno Breker on his 18th anniversary

The sculptor wanted to be buried in his Castle Museum


By B.John Zavrel



Arno Breker and his art publisher Joe F. Bodenstein (left), whom the sculptor valued as his ‚pacemaker'. Both men developed the concept for the ‚Arno Breker Museum' as a meeting place of cultures. The artist was in complete agreement with Bodenstein, who brought about the ‚renaissance of Breker' after World War II.

© Foto Marco, Bonn


New York/Berlin (bpb) Arno Breker died on February 13, 1991 in Germany. It was a sunny winter day, and there was freshly fallen snow. 18 years later, there are good reasons to remember the most significant sculptor of the Classical tradition of the 20th century. He placed the image of man and the beauty of creation into the centerpoint of his creative work.

This loyalty to his work, ever since his young years, continued during the time of Hitler's Germany, and after 1948 achieved a new crowning climax in the era of the young German democracy under the statesman Konrad Adenauer. Breker's public popularity and political rehabilitation after the deep, deep fall of the Nazi regime would not have been possible with such success, if there had been no encounter of the then ostracized artist with the publicist Joe F. Bodenstein. Well established in the society and politics, the journalist first met the former ‚Hitler's favorite sculptor' during an interview.

At that time, Breker had an atelier in Paris, the city of his young years as an artist. During the interview, they discussed his life, work and fate. That was the beginning of the year 1970. From that point on, the two men cooperated with full mutual trust and much success. Breker, depicted in the German media as a Nazi artist and profiteer, but who publicly despised Hitler's dictatorship in Germany, was from now on to be able to work a bit more peacefully.

He transfered to Bodenstein the exclusive representation of his works. With this, the publisher himself became an object of ugly defamation, rumors and even suspicion of neo-Nazi sympathies. But the democratic integrity of the publicist and his engagement for art was recognized by many. In spite of the decades-long attacks which constantly threatened his professional career in the media and his engagement for art, the truth promoted by Bodenstein eventually overcame the detractors. He organized public art exhibitions, international meetings, participation in art fairs in Germany and abroad, also in Switzerland and the United States.

In this way, through this unique personal engagement, Bodenstein finally succeeded in breaking the taboo surrounding Arno Breker. The intelligent and sensitive sculptor was very thankful for this engagement. Breker was especially pleased that his publisher made possible also the publication of books about him in the United States through the young publishing firm West Art. Thus were published in USA the books „Arno Breker: His Life and Art", „Collected Writings of Arno Breker", and the especially authentic volume „Interview with Arno Breker". (These publications can be ordered from info@meaus.com )


The first publications about the sculptor Arno Breker in the United States after World War II. West Art published, during Breker's lifetime, three richly illustrated books, which still now are used also as art history textbooks at American universities.

© Foto West-Art, meaus



Breker is a turning point in the art history of the 20th century

Within the framework of the renaissance of Arno Breker, there came about the ‚Friendship of the Golden Triangle" between the surrealistic painter Salvador Dalí, Arno Breker and Ernst Fuchs, the founder of the so-called ‚Viennese School of Painting'. The art-friends and art collectors clearly realized that Breker, with his realism of the ‚New School' represents a turning point on the cultural scene of the various ‚&endash;isms'.

Still during his lifetime, one of Breker's wishes was fulfilled: the establishment of a museum with his works. For this, the family of Marie-Louise Bodenstein made their family estate, a historical castle, available to Breker at no cost.

According to the suggestions of the Master, renovations and construction of the historical complex took place. He also was in agreement that one day his mortal remains would be buried in the Hall of Knights in the Castle, just as Salvador Dalí had found his final resting place in his museum in Figueres, Spain. These firm plans were kept strictly secret for a long time.

Those who had known Breker personally and spoke his language, knew this: The genius Arno Breker thought in historical dimensions. Already during the reconstruction of the castle his wishes were followed: ‚to make the ceiling of the Hall of Knights as high like in a church, in order to give it a sacral atmosphere when used as a crypt and place of worship'. Unfortunately, the fulfilment of this vision remains for the future, and as a task for the coming generations, since his widow would not agree to fulfil the Master's wish..

It is true today as much as it was years ago, what the French writer Roger Peyrefitte had once said about the significance of Arno Breker in art history, whom his friend Aristide Maillol in 1942 in Paris called Breker „the German Michelangelo". Peyrefitte, the Grandmaster of the Alexander Order Pour le Mérite for Science and Art, proclaimed at the festivities at Arno Breker's 90th birthday in 1990: „Arno Breker is a lighthouse in the art, which radiates far into the new millennium".



© PROMETHEUS 140/2009

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 140, February, 2009