APOLLO AND DAPHNE, a monumental bronze relief by Arno Breker.
1900 Born on July 19 in Elberfeld (Germany), the eldest son of Arnold Breker, a stone-mason with a gravestone business, and his wife Luise. Descended on his mother's side from Lothringen Huguenots who fled to Germany after the repeal of the Edict of Nantes (1685).
1915 Breker decides to become a sculptor after viewing Rodin's 'Age of Bronze' in the Düsseldorf Museum. He reads R.M. Rilke's book on Rodin with great enthusiasm. Begins learning to chisel in his father's business.
1916--1920 Afer graduating from high school, takes over the management of his father's business when the latter is drafted. At the same time, he enrolls in anatomy and drawing courses at the Elberfeld School of Fine Arts. Attempts to work with artist and professor Adolf von Hildebrand (Munich), but forced to abandon this plan for economic reasons.
1920--1925 Studies at the Düsseldorf Academy with Hildebrand's pupil Hubert Netzer (sculpture) and Wilhelm Kreis (architecture). His first works are abstract: shell-like forms combined with metal structures. Soon, however, he turns to classical and post-cubist sculpture. Wins prizes in several architecture competitions. Meets Walter Gropius and Paul Klee in Weimar.
1922 For an exhibition at the Düsseldorf Academy, he creates a room with four umbrella-like pillars and abstract figures. The Düsseldorf Art Association commissions him to create annual gifts. Completes the cubist figure 'Stehendes Mädchen' (Standing Girl). A copy of this work can be found in the Breker Museum.
1924 First trip to Paris, made possible by the sale of one of his female sculptures. Contact with Jean Cocteau, Jean Renoir, the art dealer Alfred Flechtheim (who represents Breker from 1929 onward), and Picasso's art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, among others.
1925 At the request of Wilhelm Kreis, creates the monumental stone sculpture 'Aurora', which is placed on a building of the Düsseldorf Exhibition Halls in the courtyard on the occasion of the "Gesolei" Exhibition. This impressive work marks the end of his academic period and gives him a chance to assert his own style.
1926 Challenge Trophy of Regierungspräsident in Düsseldorf upon its millennium celebracions. Breker creates the bronze 'Läufer' (Runner. Pictured in the January 1, 1926 issue of the Düsseldorfer Blätter, a cultural magazine, accompanied by an article entitled "Arnold Breker" by Max Niehaus.) War memorial in Budberg (Lower Rhein). Portraits of Friedrich Ebert and Otto Dix, the latter published in the Düsseldorfer Blätter. First meeting with Alexander Calder in Paris.
1927--1934 Breker moves to Paris, which he regards as his adopted home his whole life long. Resides first in Gentilly, a suburb of Paris, then acquires a studio on the Avenue d'Orléans. Close connections with Sonia and Robert Delaunay, Charles Despiau, and Isamu Noguchi, regularly associates with Jean Fautrier, Foujita, Man Ray, James Joyce, Constantin Brancusi, Maurice de Vlaminck, Fernand Léger, Catherine Essling, Mateo Hernandez, Ernest Hemingway, Jules Pascin, François Pompon, Paul Belmondo, Emil Antoine Bourdelle, André Dunoyer de Segonzac, Zborowski, etc.
Alexander Calder lives for a year in Breker's studio. The American works on mobiles and wire figures which, Breker relates, he sets in motion on round discs accompanied by German march music.
Meets painters Arthur Kampf and Leo von König, as well as sculptor Georg Kolbe.
The beginning of the Paris years (1927--1934) is characterized by an intensive study of the symmetry of the human body. A whole series of torsos are created: 'Sitzender Mann' (Sitting Man), 'Torso des David ' (Torso of David), 'Akt mit gekreuzten Beinen' (Nude with Crossed Legs), etc. Sculptor Charles Malfray introduces him to more of Rodin's work. Malfray makes a deep impression on him. Breker attends his courses and later writes of him that he was "one of the intermediaries to the great sculptors of the 1920's, that is, between the two world wars'.
1927 Trip to North Africa. With the "Tunesische Reise" (Tunisian Journey) series of lithographs, Breker conveys his impressions of the North African landscape and its people. On the way to Africa, he stops at Banyuls-sur-Mer to visit Aristide Maillol, who invites him to stay. The two form a deep friendship which lasts unspoiled until Maillol's death in 1944. Maillol takes Breker to the Catalan sculptor Manolo at Céret.
The sculpture 'Homme aux avant-bras fléchis' (Man with flexed Forearms) is created with the perfect working of the surface. Breker's inspiration for this surface is a chicken egg, which he considers to have a perfect shape. The perfection of the surface and the preciseness of each detail is achieved in part by the grinding out of negative molds. In this way, it becomes possible to create a plastic volume that presses outward, an unmistakable shaping that becomes the prevailing principle of the monumental sculptures to come during his 'classical period' (1927&endash;1945).
1928 Becomes acquainted with writer Jacques Benoist-Méchin. Breker lends his support to the spreading of Maillol's works in Germany. He is a member of a committee headed by Count Harry Kessler that organizes a Maillol exhibition at the Flechtheim Gallery (Berlin).
1929 Creates portraits of sculptors Moissey Kogan and Isamu Noguchi, who were among his circle of friends in Paris. Exhibition at the Salon d'Automne (Paris). Art dealer Alfred Flechtheim, who works closely with Picasso's art dealer Kahnweiler, begins to promote Breker's work. He helps to make him better known in Germany as well. Breker signs a contract with the American art dealer, Brummer, and contemplates moving to the United States. However, in view of the international economic crisis, he abandons this plan.
1930, Broker receives several official commissions, among them the large 'St. Matthäus' (St. Matthew) sculpture for Düsseldorf and the Röntgen Memorial in Lennep-Remscheid. Flechtheim arranges an exhibition of small sculptures in Düsseldorf entitled "From Carpeaux to Breker".
1932 Breker takes 2nd and 4th place to Kolbe in a competition run by the city of Düsseldorf for a monument to Heinrich Heine. Due to conflict between the various parties, the project is not carried out. Not until decades later, through the initiative of the Heinrich Heine Society under the leadership of Dr. Hermann Lohausen, does Breker create a sculpture of Heine which is erected on Norderney, an island in the North Sea where Heine lived 1825--27. A Heine portrait by Breker is placed in St. Goarshausen on the Rhine.
Awarding of the Rome Prize of the Prussian Ministry of Culture to Breker, based on the remarkable body of work which he has created thus far. This award allows him to spend a year at the Villa Massimo in Rome. There, as well as in Naples and Florence, he strengthens his knowledge of the art of antiquity. He is impressed by the harmony achieved in the layout of these cities, which is achieved using architecture and sculpture.
The sight of Michelangelo's 'David' in the moonlight stuns Breker in an unforgettable manner. He makes a copy, then later a reconstruction of the famous 'Pieta Rondanini'. These works have an influence on the form and content of those to come in the years that follow. Meets the sculptor Joachim Karsch, who is staying in Rome at the same time.
1934 Returns to Germany at the urging of painter Max Liebermann, who is supported in this request by art historian Wilhelm Hausenstein (future ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Paris). Liebermann's niece, Grete Ring, at that time owner of the Cassirer Gallery, also urges him to return. The influential Liebermann helps Breker to acquire the studio of animal sculptor August Gaul, who has passed away. After seven years away from home, it is difficult for Breker to gain a foothold in the Reich's capital city under the new conditions which exist there. He is called 'the Frenchman' and reproached with having held himself aloof from the political events of the time. His companion, Demetra Messala, a Greek woman, is suspected to be Jewish.
Breker is a regular guest of Liebermann, and the two become friends. Exhibition at the Graphics Gallery in Bremen. Meets the architect Mies van der Rohe. Breker creates a relief -- 'Pietà' -- with two female figures. The structure of this work is comparable to that of the later relief 'Kameraden' (Comradeship).
1935 Completes the portrait bust of Max Liebermann. A short time later, on February 9, at the request of Liebermann's widow, he takes the death mask of his friend. The death mask is preserved in Breker's studio for the duration of the war. A bronze casting appears after 1945 in the National Foundation of Prussian Culture in Berlin,
Exhibition at the Vömel Gallery (Cologne), with whom Breker works in the years to follow. Until 1945, Breker's work is included in all of the important collective exhibitions.
In the same year, the free state of Bavaria arranges an exhibition of Berlin artists. As members of the judges panel, Breker, Arthur Kampf, Georg Kolbe and Leo von König express their support for tolerance in art, so that artists who are considered controversial by the Nazi regime are also given the chance to participate. Breker is especially supportive of Käthe Kollwitz, a woman sculptor whom he knows and whose work he admires. In the end, Gauleiter Wagner (a government representative) imposes his own choice. Breker protests in vain. In spite of this, Breker begins campaigning against the policy of 'Entartete Kunst' (degenerate art), which leads to tension with Adolf Hitler on this issue. Nevertheless, Breker receives commissions for the Berlin Ministry of Finance and for the German Adlershof Experimental Institute of Aviation.
1936 Breker wins the silver medal in the sculpture competition of the Olympic Games in Berlin. The IOC awards him the medal for his figures entitled 'Der Zehnkämpfer' (Decathlete) and 'Die Siegerin' (Victory), also called 'Mädchen mit dem Lorbeer' (Girl with the Laurel). (For diplomatic reasons, Hitler used his influence to see that the gold medal in this Olympic competition went to the allied Italy, although the judges wished to give the 'gold' to Breker.) Decathlete Gustav Stührk and a woman javelin thrower serve as models for these figures, each 3.25 meters high. They were erected on the Reichssportfeld (Reich Sports Grounds) in front of the Gymnastics Academy.
In the same year, Breker creates five reliefs on the Nordstern-Gebäude in Berlin (Fehrbelliner Platz). Their titles are: 'Heiliger Georg' (Saint George), 'Heiliger Christophorus' (Saint Christopher), 'Sankt Martin' (Saint Martin), 'Mann mit Fackel' (Man with Torch), and 'Frau mit Fackel' (Woman with Torch).
1937 Appointed professor at the Hochschule für bildende Kunst (Academy of Fine Arts) in Berlin. Marriage to Demetra Messala, whom he met in Paris. This marriage remains childless.
At the request of his friend, the French sculptor Charles Despiau, becomes member of the international judges panel at the World Exhibition in Paris. Despiau, unanimously elected to be committee president, passes on this office to the younger Breker.
Breker's 'Prometheus', commissioned by the Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (Reich Ministry for the People's Information and Propaganda) is erected in Munich at the opening of the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art). He also completes an 'Ikarus' for the Dresdner Luftkriegsschule (Dresden Airforce Academy), the lions at the Maschsee (a lake) in Hanover, and the monumental figure 'Dionysus' for the Olympische Dorf (Olympic Village) in Berlin.
1938--1945 In 1938, Breker is chosen to supervise an exhibition of German sculptors in Warsaw beginning on March 1. The success of this event, during which he is the guest of German ambassador von Moltke, brings him to the attention of Joseph Goebbels.
Collaboration with architect Albert Speer after the 1936 Olympic Games brings in numerous government commissions in the years leading up to the end of the war. Hitler requests that Breker concentrate his creative energies primarily on the renovation of Berlin, the capital city. With this commission, political intrigues against the 'Frenchman' Breker no longer carry any weight. Through the strengthening of his artistic position, Breker is able to help many people being persecuted for political or racial reasons during the National Socialist period which follows.
Among other things, Breker works on sculptures and reliefs for the artistic adornment of the Neue Reichskanzlei (the New Chancellery). At Speer's request, he works on two marble reliefs, 'Kämpfer' (Fighter) and 'Genius' for the Kuppelsaal (domed hall). For the main portal of the Reichskanzlei, Breker creates the 'Fackelträger' (Torchbearer, symbol of the spirit with which a nation should be lead) and the 'Schwertträger' (Swordbearer, symbol of the protection which a nation needs). At the official opening, Hitler renames the sculptures 'Partei' (The Party) and 'Wehrmacht' (The Army).
For the Great Triumphal Arch in Berlin, Breker is assigned to do, among other things, a series of 24 reliefs, each ten meters high and together covering an expanse of 240 meters. From this composition, consisting of 50 figures and 18 horses, only some are finished: 'Kameraden' (Comradeship), 'Opfer' (Sacrifice), 'Fackelträger' (Torchbearer), 'Rächer' (Avenger), 'Wächter' (Guardian), 'Vergeltung' (Retaliation), etc.
Breker receives a commission to build a fountain basin 126 meters in diameter for the capital city's Runder Platz (circular plaza). He designs the 'Apollo Fountain': Apollo, riding his sun chariot pulled by fiery horses, rises from the flowing waters.
At the request of architect Werner March, Breker also assists in the fitting out of the Reichsparteitagsgelände (Reich Convention Grounds) in Nuremberg. For this he creates the figures 'Künder' (Seer) and 'Bereitschaft' (Readiness) for one of the grandstands at the Zeppelinfeld. 'Bereitschaft' is later moved to Berlin and erected on Adolf Hitler Square, now called Theodor Heuss Square.
The completion of all this work within just a small number of years is only made possible by the existence of Breker's large studios located north of Berlin in Jäckelsbruch and Wriezen. There Breker gathers more than 100 young artists and skilled craftsmen from European countries like France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, the Ukraine, Romania, and Hungary, who are among the prisoners of war brought to Germany. Breker's studios also encompass guest houses, where foreign artists live and work together with Germans from the Sudetenland and other regions. Among Breker's master pupils are Bernhard Heiliger and Gregor Kruk who assist him with the rough execution of the larger sculptures for government projects in Berlin, and whom Breker also allows to use his studio during the National Socialist period to do abstract work.
1938 Breker receives additional commissions for architectural sculpture in Berlin, among them work for the Yugoslavian Embassy and for museums on Museum Island.
1939 Breker receives the Berlin Medal for Fine Arts. Study trip to Southern Italy and Sicily with Speer, the sculptor Thorak, the architect Kreis, and others.
In spite of the large amount of work he is doing, Breker is able to maintain close contact with foreign artists and intellectuals as well as with German writers Hans Carossa and Gerhart Hauptmann, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1912. Musicians like Wilhelm Kempff and Alfred Cortot remain lifelong friends. Aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh visits Breker in his studio while the latter is working on his 'Flug des Ikarus' (Flight of Icarus) relief. Lindbergh says to Breker, "You have forgotten to include Icarus's fall in your portrayal." Breker concludes their discussion of his Icarus relief with a smile, saying, "My Icarus does not fall."
1940 Grand Prize from Italy. Appointed member of the Prussian Academy of Fine Arts and member of the Reich Cultural Senate. Molotov hands over an invitation by Stalin to work in the Soviet Union.
Finishes 'Die Kameraden' (Comradeship) relief, intended for the Arch of Triumph in Berlin. This representation--from the design, through models of various sizes, to finished work--is similar to the Pieta compositions. 'Die Kameraden' is one of the most striking, significant works of the classical period.
On the morning of June 22, 1940, after the signing of the Franco-German armistice, Breker is flown to Headquarters, where Hitler requests that he show him Paris. Architects Albert Speer and Hermann Giesler accompany them as well. "I want to be surrounded by artists", says Hitler, as Breker recalls. When Breker asks him, in the course of their trip together, why, instead of making a quick visit to the French capital, he does not march into the metropolis with great splendor, Hitler answers, "I do not want to do that to this great cultural people".
During their short stay in Paris and the drive on June 23, 1940, through streets largely empty of people, Hitler proves himself to be quite well acquainted with Parisian monuments, a knowledge he acquired in his earlier study of the city plans. Among other places, they visit the Vault of the Invalids with Napoleon's tomb, the opera, and the Trocadero with its view of the Eiffel Tower.
Hitler is very impressed with the architecture of Paris and the layout of the city. In this mood, he confides to Breker during the return flight that he received numerous denunciations of him in 1934--1935.
In the years which follow, Breker uses the sympathy that Hitler expresses for the artist during their trip to increase his aid to others. He intervenes on behalf of many French sculptors, casters, and stone--masons sitting in prison camps, obtaining their release to work in his studios in Jäckelsbruch.
France's famous caster, Alexis Rudier, who cast much of the work of Auguste Rodin and Bourdelle, receives commissions from Breker in Berlin to do the bronzes for the Reich's capital city.
Breker creates the larger-than-life bronze 'Der Verwundete' (The Wounded), for which he uses as a model a photograph of racing cyclist André Leduc which shows him sitting on the side of the road with pain-wracked face after being injured in the 1930 Tour de France. (Winner of the Tour de France in 1930 and 1932, André Leduc dies in 1980. He remains friend with Breker until his death.)
1942 During a visit to Berlin in March 1941, Jacques Benoist-Méchin suggests that Breker give an exhibition in occupied France. The latter consents only reluctantly. After his return to Paris Benoist-Méchin forms an illustrious committee of many well-known personalities.
On May 15, 1942, the Breker exhibition opens its doors in the Orangerie of the Tuileries. Among those present at the opening ceremonies are: Aristide Maillol, Charles Despiau, Paul Belmondo, Jean Cocteau, André Dunoyer de Segonzac, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, actress Arletty, dancer and choreographer Serge Lifar, Sacha Guitry, Sonia Delaunay, Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain, Othon Friesz, Roland Oudot, Landowski, and van Dongen. The opening speeches are given by Minister of Education Abel Bonnard and Benoist-Méchin. In the following weeks, 120,000 people visit the exhibition. Maillol praises Breker as the "new Michelangelo".
Members of the French Resistance are outraged. However, many of them secretly visit the exhibition later, among them Pablo Picasso, who is encouraged to do so by Cocteau. Despiau, in contact with Breker since 1927, writes a monograph on Breker which is produced by the Flammarion Publishing House in high quality copper gravure and which appears at the exhibition.
A few days after the opening of the exhibition, the Musée Rodin gives a reception for Breker. Director Georges Grappe extends his greetings to the artist in the presence of such illustrious guests as Paul Moran, Sacha Guitry, Despiau and others. Meets writers Jean Giraudoux and Louis Ferdinand Céline.
The exhibition in Paris is followed up with a reciprocal visit to Berlin by artists from France and other foreign countries, which furthers Cocteau's efforts to promote contact between European artists. Among the international array of guests is the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who visits Breker's studios in Jäckelsbruch and Wriezen.
Breker uses his influence with the German authorities in occupied France again and again on behalf of threatened and persecuted people. Speer's "urgent recommendation" that he hold himself more aloof for political reasons does not deter Breker from intervening when he can. Through his efforts, caster Rudier is freed from prison in Fresnes, and Patrice de la Tour du Pin is also released.
In order that he might continue to intervene on behalf of his friends Breker takes advantage of the regular invitations he receives to the Reichskanzlei (Reich Chancellery). There Hitler declares at dinner, "Artists understand nothing of politics." Breker interprets this statement to mean that he is allowed a 'certain freedom of action'. Thus--as becomes known after 1945--he takes care to the fate of Henry Matisse's wife and daughter. In addition, at the request of Maillol, he is able to secure the release of Dina Vierny, Maillol's young model, from prison in Paris. She had been denounced to the German authorities as a Russian Jewess and communist sympathizer on the alleged grounds of resistance.
At Cocteau's request, Breker becomes involved in what comes to be known after the war as Operation 'White Dove' which saves Picasso from arrest by the German Gestapo and deportation to a concentration camp.
It is apparent, too, that Breker saved the life of Jean Marais. (Marais, who had beaten a journalist who collaborated with Hitler's Germany, did not learn of Breker's intervention until 1963, after the death of Cocteau. Others, on the other hand, had endeavored to eliminate all traces of their deliverance by Breker.)
In Germany, Breker intervenes on behalf of the Jewish art dealer Flechtheim, as well as publisher Peter Suhrkamp, the latter charged with high treason. Neither of the two--as was the case with many others as well--ever really expressed their gratitude to Breker after 1945, who was then being condemned by the media.
Breker's continued efforts on behalf of those who are persecuted for racial or religious reasons, as well as on behalf of critics of the regime, make him a threatened target during the National Socialist period. Weary of the good-hearted artist's repeated interventions, Hitler declares, "Artists are the Parsifals in politics."
1943 Exhibition in Cologne. Another trip to France and a visit with Maillol in Banyuls-Sur-Mer. Finishes portrait of Aristide Maillol.
1944 Another exhibition in Potsdam. Early in 1944, Hitler suggests that Breker take up the superintendence of the Fine Arts Academies. Breker draws up 14 points for a future concept entitled "Art in Germany--Art in Europe." Among his ideas are the free development of artistic endeavor, orientation on the creation, an awareness of antiquity, and cultural communication between the continents and peoples of the world. As a prerequisite to this national cultural work, Breker considers it necessary that Hitler's personal photographer Heinrich Hoffman be removed from the sphere of artistic influence. In view of these proposals of Breker Hitler postpones this theme.
The relief 'Orpheus and Eurydike', one of the most beautiful works of the classical period, is completed in 1944. In it the figures are portrayed wearing close-fitting garments.
1945 In the spring of this year, Breker leaves his Jäckelsbruch studio to his pupil Bernhard Heiliger, who has lived with him for a number of years (and who, in 1948, heaps abuse upon Breker during a denazification trial). He also leaves behind a comprehensive collection of international art, including bronzes by Rodin and works done by abstract artists. Several months later, his three studios in Berlin, Jäckelsbruch and Wriezen, are taken over by allied troops. They confiscate everything they find, looting and stealing what they want, and destroying what they cannot carry away. All in all, 80% of Breker's existing work is either stolen or destroyed. Ultimately, communist East Germany confiscates all Breker's property and land. Even after German reunification under Chancellor Helmut Kohl on October 3, 1990, it is neither returned to him, nor is he reimbursed for it.
In 1945, the works which he exhibited in Paris and left behind there are confiscated and auctioned off in the early sixties. (Due to a law passed in March of 1947, German citizens are prohibited from buying them. However, with considerable effort and the help of Swiss art collector Edwige Soder, Breker is able to buy back a few of the irreplaceable pieces which were expropriated from him.)
One of the rescued figures, the gilded 'Bereitschaft' (Readiness), now standing in the artist's garden, had its arms expertly sawed off by American or Russian soldiers. It is possible that they exist somewhere today in someone's private collection as 'looted art'. The bust of Arthur Kampf, which was confiscated by French authorities in 1946, probably suffered a similar fate.
Breker settles in Wemding (Bavaria). He leads a quiet life, although he immediately resumes contact with his French friends. In the autumn of 1945, Breker is summoned by the head of U.S. authorities (within the CIC Council) to publicly express his 'regret' at having accepted official commissions from the National Socialist regime. Breker refuses to comply with this demand, saying it is an "undemocratic and undignified extortion" of the defeated.
Several months later, U.S. General Smith of the Control Council conveys to Breker a renewed invitation by Josef Stalin to go to work in the Soviet Union.
1946 In his new home, Breker devotes himself primarily to drawing. Lack of room prevents him from sculpting at this time. He produces a series of very interesting watercolors, mostly of female nudes. These medium-sized works on self-torn, handmade paper are a valuable addition to Breker's artistic achievements.
1947 Father Baumann of Munich tries to get Breker to participate in the renovation work of St. Michael's Church. The project founders under pressure from the SPD in Bavaria.
1948 Breker is 'denazified' in a court proceeding customary for the time. All except three of the comments given to the local members of the tribunal take a stance in his favour. The dissenting opinions include the accusations of his pupil Heiliger, who claimed that Breker had "eaten off golden plates". Such accusations do not convince the court. Like millions of other Germans, Breker is ultimately classified as a 'fellow traveler' in the Nazi period and fined 100 marks. The alternative, building a fountain for the city of Donauwörth as 'punishment', Breker declines.
1950 Moves to Düsseldorf and soon after acquires the former studio of animal sculptor Josef Pallenberg. Among other things, he creates the ca. 70 cm high figure 'Hüttenarbeiter', a young man with a staff. Among his first foreign visitors in Düsseldorf after the war is Jean Cocteau.
1951 Exhibition of the marble bust of Richard Wagner from the year 1939 in the 'Rose Garden' on the grounds of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.
In the years which follow, Breker does a lot of architectural work, participating in the reconstruction of Munich, Hagen, Essen, Düsseldorf and Cologne.
His largest 'Gesamtkunstwerk' after the war becomes the design and construction of the Gerling Building in Cologne. For the relief 'Die Anbetung der Heiligen drei Könige' (The Adoration of the Three Holy Kings), which he conceives for this building complex, Breker chooses the classical, but nonetheless modern, style of architecture. Among other things, he creates the two reliefs 'St. Georg' and 'St. Martin', as well as a fountain, for the building which the media comes to describe as the "New Reich Chancellery". (Decades later, this amalgamation of art and architecture, built after the war, is classified as an historic monument.)
1952 Produces abstract sculptures, among them a standing robed figure about 1.2 meters in height called Ð Iphigenie ð. Later, a larger and somewhat different version is created and then transferred to stone. In the years which follow, he produces a number of small, abstract sculptures with mythological appellations. This kind of work continues into the 1960's.
1955&endash;1959 Beginning of fundamental changes. The 55-year-old undertakes another study trip to Italy. After the death of his first wife, Breker marries Charlotte Kluge in 1958. In her he finds a dependable, loyal woman with whom he can found the family which he desires. With the birth of his beloved children Gerhart (1959) and Carola (1962), the happiness in his home life of the now 62-year-old artist is complete. Charlotte Breker proves to be modest and selfless. During the decades which follow, her diligence and prudence ensure that her husband is free to create.
1960 Breker concentrates once again on sculpture. He opens up a studio in Paris near the Gard du Nord railroad station. There he not only works intensively, but soon, as in former years, old friends begin to visit him, bringing with them new, young friends who are eager to learn. Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais visit him. Breker is badgered into opening a salon. The guests are highly interesting people and some even illustrious. The venerable poet Ezra Pound visits him and meets at Breker's the beautiful Ira von Fürstenberg.
Breker concentrates on portrait busts. His list of commissions is long. He gives first preference to old friends. He alternates between working in Paris and his studio in Düsseldorf. There he sees that the industrialist Henkel acquires Maillol's last work, Ð Harmonie ð, so that he can have it erected in the Düsseldorf Hofgarten Park as a memorial to Heine. It is the first big purchase that Dina Vierny &endash; who has in the meantime become Maillol's executor and art dealer &endash; transacts in Germany after the war.
1962 Breker meets the 24-year-old Nureyev through Jacques de Ricaumont, at whose wish the dancer wants to model for Breker. The plan is postponed out of consideration for Breker's friend Lifar, who has a skeptical attitude towards the Russian ballet star. It is not until years later that two lithographs are done of Nureyev. Fernand Mourlot prints them in 1975.
1963 The bust of Jean Cocteau arouses excitement in Parisian society. After completing the Cocteau, Breker does the sculpture Ð Der Prophet ð, which he completes in 1963, the year of the poet's death. When Cocteau sees a clay model of his portrait bust, he sings the praises of his friend: « You are a creator, a craftsman of unattainable magnitude in our time. »
1964 The bust of Cocteau is placed in the chapel of Saint-Blaise-des-Simples in Milly-la-Forêt. The filmmaker René Clair unveils it in the presence of Marcel Pagnol, Arno Breker and other well-known personalities in the world of art, culture, and society.
Inspired by success, portrait busts become the core of Breker's work. There are more than 300 busts, making him the sculptor of the 20th century who has done the most portraits of his contemporaries from life.
1967 One of his most important and impressive busts is that of poet Ezra Pound, which was done in Basel and Paris. Pound visits Breker in his studio.
1970 Breker takes up again the world of forms found in his sculptural work of the 1920's and develops it in an unmistakable manner into a style of completed form all his own. From 1970 on, receives commissions from heads of foreign governments. Accedes to the request of Moroccan King Hassan II that he help with the building of the Grand Square of the United Nations in Casablanca. The work included a monumental statue of Sultan Mohammed V.
1971 Due to an assassination attempt on King Hassan II in July of 1971 in Moroccan Skhirat, the projects are abandoned. Breker is present at the King's large garden party when the bloody attack is made. Like the King, Breker survives the assassination attempt by saving himself with Jacques Benoist-Méchin in an adjoining building of the palace.
1972 Commissions the Marco Edition (Bonn-Paris) to attend to the whole body of his artistic work. Breker's editor, Joe F. Bodenstein, carries on the tradition of Alfred Flechtheim from the 1920's and maintains the association with Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler as well. A Breker renaissance begins by means of art publications, sculpture cycles, and exhibitions. In the period following, Marco Bodenstein takes over the gallery and, among other things, assumes responsibility for exhibitions in the United States, while his father concentrates exclusively on international Breker publications.
First exhibition, entitled "Arno Breker--Masterworks", in the Marco Gallery in Bonn, attended by guests from political, economic and artistic spheres. In the years which follow, always represented at exhibitions in the nation's capital city of Bonn.
Breker publishes his memoirs (Im Strahlungsfeld der Ereignisse) and a collection of portrait busts. First meeting in Paris with Denise Erhard-Egret and Dominique Egret, who commit themselves to the artist's work in France.
1973 Breker undertakes official commissions for, among others, the Ivory Coast. Later he does portrait busts of Félix Houphouêt-Boigny (1974&endash;75). The African and Near East busts often trace back to the friendly contacts Breker has with J. Benoist-Méchin, who has meanwhile become a specialist for these states. Renews his acquaintance with Professor Hermann Oberth, the 'Father of Space Travel'. Exhibition in Munich at the Deutsches Kulturwerk Europäischen Geistes.
The French periodical Nouvelle Ecole publishes (Nr. 24/Winter 1973-74) a title story on Arno Breker. Artists of the post-war generation read the article with excitement, finding in it confirmation of their own work. From now on, they call Breker's style 'Nouvelle Ecole', or the 'New School', in the 20th century. It is a reaction to the general promotion of abstract art by the media after 1945.
Breker receives numerous requests from young artist to accept them as pupils. He must, however, deny them, for due to his old age, his own work leaves him no time for teaching.
1974 Breker is present when the Dali Museum at Figueras, Spain, ist opened, where Breker's bust Jean Cocteau is exhibited. Dali proclaims the 'Golden Triangle of Friendship' between himself, Breker, and Ernst Fuchs, whose sculpture 'Esther' also comes to the museum. "We are the Golden Triangle in art: Breker-Dali-Fuchs. No matter which way we are turned, we come out on top", announces Dali. He is also interested in Breker's 'Kameraden' (Comradeship) relief, so that he may integrate it into his Dali Museum.
Exhibition entitled "Form and Beauty" by the Salzburg Cultural Association in Salzburg. Among the prominent guests with Breker is Winifred Wagner, who travels there from Bayreuth.
Gets the Golden Ring of Honour for Fine Arts from the Deutsches Kulturwerk Europäischen Geistes.
1975 On his 75th birthday, the Marco Edition publishes 'Hommage à Breker' , with contributions from Cocteau, Segonzac, Pierre-Yves Trémois, Salvador Dali, Ernst Fuchs, Georg Cadora, Wilhelm Kempff and others. The portrait bust of Dali is completed. Breker does a bust of Dali's manager and close friend Cpt. Peter Moore.
The city of Bayreuth, led by SPD mayor Hans Walter Wild, commissions Breker to do a monumental portrait bust of Franz Liszt, father-in-law of Richard Wagner.
1976 Exhibition of the Liszt bust in the festival grounds of Bayreuth, which in June celebrates 100 years of Bayreuth Festivals. Federal President Walter Scheel attends the ceremony.
Begins work on a new Olympia series, capturing the body of the modern athlete in sculpture, drawings and prints. Breker's models over the years include top athletes like Walter Kusch, Peter Nocke, Eberhard Gienger, Kurt Bendlin, Ulrike Meyfarth, and Jürgen Hingsen, as well as young competitive athletes from the armed forces, and others.
Ernst Fuchs travels from Vienna to Düsseldorf so that Breker may sculpt him. The painter--founder of the Viennese School of Phantastic Realism--stays in Breker's home. The reciprocal esteem they hold for each other's work deepens their personal friendship. Fuchs remains bound with Breker even after the latter's death.
Continuation of the Olympia series. A collaboration with the Russian dancer Mihail Baryshnikov, who is living in America, is put aside for lack of time. Mala Rubinstein comes from the United States to visit the Breker exhibition in Bonn. She relates a discussion with Marlene Dietrich, who said, "In Berlin, Breker has sculpted the men that I have dreamed about in Hollywood."
U.S. contacts are renewed, which lead to publisher B. John Zavrel, among others. Zavrel has several publications printed about Breker, as well as Hermann Oberth, the 'Father of Space Travel'.
Breker creates six lithographs to accompany the first German publication of the novelle 'Der Junge, der Gedichte schreibt' (The boy who writes poetry) by the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima.
1977 The larger-than-life sculpture 'Mädchen mit Tuch' (Girl with Scarf) is created, an important piece that is done at the start of the master's so-called 'late period'. Before undertaking the final version of this work, Breker--in accordance with his customary method of working on a sculpture--does a small and then a middle-sized model of the same composition.
Winifred Wagner comes to Breker from Bayreuth in order to sit for a somewhat larger-than-life portrait bust in his studio in Düsseldorf.
1978 First meeting with Kurt Arentz, whom he encourages to do more artist work. Arentz and the Sculptor Kurt Moser in turn urge Breker to take part once again in exhibitions at the House of Art in Munich. Breker then makes the effort to ensure that works of other European artists like Jean Cocteau, Marc Chagall, Leonor Fini, Henry Moore, and Belmondo are shown in an 'European Room'. Moore, too, personally provides exhibits for this and later dedicates to Breker his sculpture entitled 'Liegende Frau' (Reclining Woman) with the inscription:" For Arnold Breker, in admiration of his work."
Breker is present at the installation of his 'Prometheus' in the 'Haus Beda' Art Center in Bitburg, arranged by Dr. Simon, collector and brewery owner.
Robert Powell, the British film actor famous for his portrayal of Christ, promises to be the model for Breker's planned 'Christus 2000'.
Creates portrait bust of writer and statesman Leopold Sedar Senghor who commision him an 'African Tempel' and with whom Breker conducts a lively exchange of ideas.
1979 Founding of the Arno Breker Society on September 29 in the capital city of Bonn. Its current director is Uwe Möller, who is very familiar with the artist's life and work. In the United States, prompted by Zavrel, Breker's publisher there, an Arno Breker Society International is formed. In a short time, its president, Ron C. Voth, wins acclaim for the society by means of the publication of an art bulletin entitled Prometheus.
The City of Bayreuth commissions him to do a bust of Cosima Wagner. The installation of this work in the park of the festival theater followed in 1979.
Breker becomes a member of the Munich Artists Association 'Royally Privileged Since 1868'. Continues working on the Konrad Adenauer bust. Meeting with Anwar el Sadat for the discussion of a 'Peace Memorial' in the Near East with the inclusion of Israel. Sadat sits for his portrait in a guest house of the federal government at the Castle Gymnich (Nordrhein-Westfalen).
In addition to the portrait of Sadat, portraits of U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Israeli President Menachem Begin are to be done and exhibited there.
1980 Breker receives the Order of the Lion from the Republic of Senegal in honor of his contribution to the advancement of cultural relations between Africa and Europe, as well as the promotion of friendship between these peoples.
Hutten Medal of the Gesellschaft of Freie Publizistik (Company for free Publicity), laudatio by Robert Scholz, festival speech by Jordis von Lohausen. Preparation of Castle Nörvenich (Federal Republic of Germany) with the consent of Marie-Louise Bodenstein, head of the family, for public use as a museum for the collected works of Arno Breker. The artist, accompanied by his wife Charlotte Breker, visits the building, which dates back to the 1200's, and gives his consent to the plan. In the years which follow, the family, under the building supervision of John Gilbert Bodenstein, takes into consideration all of the structural desires of the master. Sons Marco and Bertram Bodenstein commit themselves to the preservation of the artist's work even after his death.
Completion of the memorial 'Heinrich Heine' as a symbol of Youth.
1981 Breker begins work on the larger-than-life sculpture 'Alexander the Great', inspired by writer Roger Peyrefitte's book.
A controversy breaks out over the exhibition "Paris 1937--57 » to be held in the Georges Pompidou Centre where Breker is to exhibit three of his works. Belgian sculptor Pol Bury initiates a petition of artists who are against Breker's participation. Michel Junot, deputy mayor in Paris and former member of the Resistance, publicly expresses his disgust over this concerted action, which he describes as a "typical Nazi attitude". Breker withdraws from the exhibition.
In Berlin, Peyrefitte opens the exhibition "The Portrait of Man in the Work of Arno Breker". At the opening of the Bodo von Langen Gallery on May 21, approximately 400 leftists and agents of communist East Germany demonstrate on the street. Stink bombs are thrown. Around 800 policemen protect Arno Breker and several hundred guests who had not allowed the violence to keep them away from Breker's first big exhibition in Berlin since 1945.
The next day Breker, Peyrefitte, and a delegation visit East Berlin, then the capital city of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Instead of the usual mercilessly strict controls at the Friedrichstraße border crossing, Breker is given preferential treatment and not checked.
Unhindered, Breker and Peyrefitte sit on the steps of the Pergamon Altar in the museum on Museum Island and carry on a conversation about the transience of existence and the endlessness of love, beauty, and happiness.
For the 120th anniversary of Maillol's birth on December 8, 1981, Breker contributes an article entitled "Memories of Maillol" to the commemorative publication. In Paris, publisher Jacques Damase releases a volume of plates entitled 'Arno Breker: 60 Years of Sculpture.'
1982 'Arno Breker: Prophet of the Beautiful', a volume of plates which Breker helped with, is released. Publisher Dr. Richard P. Hartmann (Munich) designed this magnificent volume with texts by Ernst Fuchs. The deluxe edition includes three lithographs autographed by Breker.
The German Medallion Society commissions a commemorative medal on the occasion of the Goethe Year.
In Zurich, the Royag Gallery receives such heavy threats in the media over an exhibition that it is finally forced to close its doors in fear of being attacked and destroyed. The same year exhibition in Mettmann (with Dali and Fuchs) as well as in the Vienna Galerie 10.
1983 The first phase of fitting out Castle Nörvenich is completed. Appointment of John Gilbert Bodenstein as director of the Arno Breker Museum. The artist recommends that the facility also be used to promote international art. Thus the 'Museum Europäische Kunst' (Museum for European Art) ist developed as a second pillar.
Completes the sculpture 'Junges Europa' (New Europe), a young man with the eagle head that is characteristic of Zeus. (Quote from Breker: "Unified Europe does not yet have a face, so I have reached back into mythology for my conception of this sculpture.")
Swiss filmmaker Leonhard Gmür begins shooting the film 'Arno Breker--Portrait of a Sculptor.' Variations of the sculpture 'Mädchen mit Tuch' (Girl with Scarf), in which Breker tackles the problem of the transformation of the architectonic and the static when giving form to the human body in a sculpture.
For the commemorative publication Gregor Kruk, Breker dedicates a watercolor lithograph entitled 'Mädchen-Akt' (Nude Girl) to his former pupil.
1984 Exhibition in the Museum of the portrait bust of Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. As a preliminary exercise, Breker had done several lithographs of the Porträt Konrad Adenauer.
More and more artists seek conversation with Breker. Among those who come to visit him are sculptors Heinz Spilker (Berlin), Gregor Kruk (Munich), Antonius Schoofs, Siegfried Lunau, Alexander Kossuth (Italy), the woman sculptor Renate Stedar-Feuerbaum (Switzerland), and painters Rolf May, Horst Hütten, and Rudolf Liefke. Like Ernst Fuchs, Prof. Broghammer, and Walter Ritzenhofen, others who did portraits of Breker include Ilya Glasunov, Hütten and woman painters Helga Tiemann and Margaret Stucki (United States). Portrait busts are done by sculptors Arentz, Alexander Kossuth, and Serge-Dominique Mangin, among others.
1985 Breker focuses on religious motifs. He completes a drawing and a lithograph for a special publication entitled, The Pietà Motif in the Work of Arno Breker, which is dedicated to him for his birthday. Sculptor Fritz Nuss creates a medallion in honour of Breker's 85th birthday. Theologian Prof. Dr. Uta Ranke Heinemann writes an article called "Arno Breker--Sacred Works" for a later publication.
Breker writes an article, "Der Totentanz" (Dance of Death) to accompany illustrations of the same name done by his friend, painter Horst G. Hütten.
1986 Begins work on the sculpture 'Der Ruf Christi' (The Call of Christ). It is a youth who is kneeling, with his mouth open and a cross in his right hand. Breker wishes to publish the continuation of his memoirs. However, due to the work in his studio, he is ultimately unable to find the time to organize the notes which he has accumulated since 1972.
Breker does portraits of art collector, industrialist and art historian Prof. Peter Ludwig and his wife Prof. Irene Ludwig. In spite of public protest in the media, Ludwig stands by this commission. (Quote: "The best always seeks out the best. It would be an irremediable mistake not to have the most famous portraitist of our century do my bust. In any case, Arno Breker is an internationally recognized personality who is beyond reproach.")
Breker does the portrait of the young and beautiful Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis. Following this, he begins the portraits of art collector Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and his wife (Switzerland and Spain), which he completes in 1989.
1987 The Breker Edition MARCO publishes the little book 'Begegnungen und Betrachtungen' (Encounters and Contemplations), with texts by Breker on Jünger, the sculptor Serge-Dominique Mangin, Arentz, Senghor and others. Reproduced in this book as well is the portrait which Ilya Glasunov painted of Breker in his Düsseldorf studio in May of 1987.
1988 Exhibition of the Gerhart Hauptmann bust in front of the Schlesien House near Bonn. Among those who attended were Breker and politicians Herbert Hupka (CDU) and Hartmut Koschyk (CSU).
1989 Theologian Ranke-Heinemann writes a "Salut" (Tribute) for the special publication 'Thoughts on Love and Friendship' on the occasion of Breker's 90th birthday. Painter Jean Schmitz (Düren) writes out the articles in calligraphy. Breker focuses once again on Beethoven. He completes two portraits which depict Beethoven listening to the music in his head. Collector Ludwig acquires a sculpture 'Alexander the Great'. For this version, Breker creates a special bronze pedestal with four lion heads.
1990 At the request of Rolf Schilling, a writer living in the GDR and a friend of Ernst Jünger, Breker illustrates his series of poems entitled 'Die Häupter der Hydra' (The Heads of the Hydra), which is published by Uwe Christian Lammla's Arnshaugk Publishing House in Munich. Roger Peyrefitte composes a French text for a catalogue called 'Arno Breker: His Life and Work'.
The focal point of the year 1990 are the celebrations for Breker's 90th birthday. A total of 1,524 guests from all over the world are invited to a reception for Breker at Castle Nörvenich. Among the guests from the United States, Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe are painter Ernst Fuchs, writer Roger Peyrefitte, painter Pierre Peyrolle, theologian Prof. Dr. Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Breker's U.S. publisher B. John Zavrel, and Ron C. Voth.
Admission into the traditional 'Order of Alexander the Great for Art and Science', which Grand Master Roger Peyrefitte has renewed and modernized.
1991 On February 13, Arno Breker passes away at his home in Düsseldorf. This is also the day that Richard Wagner died and Ernst Fuchs was born.
The death mask is taken in his home and later becomes part of the collection at the Breker Museum.
The funeral takes place on Tuesday, February 19, 1991 at 10:30 in the North Cemetery in Düsseldorf. Art collector Prof. Peter Ludwig and his wife Prof. Irene Ludwig are present among the mourners from Europe, the United States and Asia. The young athlete Walter Kusch reads a "Salute to Breker" in the chapel.
Roger Peyrefitte from France says of Arno Breker : "France bows to you in spirit. You have always loved this country, and have courageously proven your loyalty and readiness to help in the blackest hour when the fury of the war broke over Europe and the world, and the fountain of friendship threatened to be poisoned. The French people, who consider themselves your friends, are proud of a man whom they love as a preserver of art and a humanist, as well as a tolerant, loyal and modest friend. The humanity, dignity and love with which you have lived is a model for a Europe of peace and cooperation."
French painter Pierre Peyrolle designs a motif which juxtaposes an eagle, Alexander the Great, and Arno Breker, for the obituary that is released worldwide by the Alexander Order, the International Breker Society in the United States, and the Museum of European Art. Upon it is inscribed : "MULTIS - ILLE - BONIS - FLEBILIS - OCCIT -- He died--mourned by many of the just".
In spite of the painful loss felt by his survivors and friends, a ceremony that had been discussed with Breker to present the monumental Dali portrait bust in the Castle Nörvenich Museum takes place on July 11, 1991. The Spanish heir apparent, Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias, makes a special trip from Madrid in order to open the Dali exhibition, which is attended by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Mrs. Breker, and over 700 other invited guests.
In the years which follow, elaboration of the museum and the Breker Archives, and rotating exhibitions of contemporary artists. The museum also becomes a meeting place for art students, scientists and researchers.
PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, Politics and Science.
Nr. 85, Winter 2002