It is a highly unusual, indeed fascinating process in what special, encoded ways ideas can suddenly take on shape concretely from the mysterious darkness.
In the facilities of the Wallraf Richartz Museum a few years ago a famous work of the French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, the six meter high bronze Mother and Child, was exhibited.
Some Cologne citizens who were interested in art met with the intention of buying this work in order to place it on a mound of war rubble. They combined with it the idea of establishing a memorial, visible in the distance, to the world political experience, to the final reconciliation of the peoples of France and Germany. The family of the actual owners of this sculpture had had the original stone version exhibited on a hill in the Vosges as a memorial to those sacrificed in the war of 1914-1918. They combined with it a stipulation established in their will whereby the work of Bourdelle was only to be erected on this hill, visible in the distance, in order to emphasize thereby its uniqueness.
It was not without sad disappointment that the idealists of Cologne saw themselves forced to retreat from their so desirable project.
But the mound, erected in front of the gates of Cologne from the rubble of the horribly destroyed city, remained long after it tried to wipe away the traces of its tragic origin by means of its gray cloaked luxuriant vegetation.
The view of the mound always stayed with me just as did the idea of what would have to be erected there for the documentation of Franco-German understanding. In many conversations I was encouraged to find a new solution by a friend and initiator of the unfortunately failed Bourdelle project.
The circumstances required a religious motif which would prevent a lapsing into unilateral political consideration. Where, then, more than in Christianity, are the ethical-spiritual assumptions of eternal peace of nations among themselves accepted?
Franco-German friendship coincides with a renaissance of both peoples. For me the symbolic motif was characterized by this: the resurrection of Christ. It alludes figuratively to our own resurrection to a new life out of the ashes of our destroyed cities.
The first conceptual sketch shows the Risen One, blessing the earth with his right hand, while the left warningly, indeed imploringly, points to heaven. As a symbolic peace memorial, visible at a distance, this seven meter high monument, produced as a joint France-German venture, is to be given to the city of Cologne by a group of donors, with the wish to have it exhibited on the park grounds of the mound of rubble at the university with the view turned toward France--as a documentation of the peace of all peoples. A symbol on this hill which is to be a clear memorial to all for the peace with France, for the peace with all peoples.
For the peace of all peoples.
Peace--we seek it as we seek hardly anything else.
Peace is not possible where hate, jealousy and striving for power determine the existence of people.
Peace remains illusion, utopia and mere hope, unless the people themselves work on it.
Peace--goes an old saying--is rest and calmness, which have their origin in order.
There is no order without people who keep the well-being and fortune of others in mind and think not only of themselves.
Order presupposes discipline, understanding and love--respect for one's fellowman--in society, in the nation, in the world.
Ruins and debris are the tracks, which hatred has engraved into the face of the earth.
It is not enough to wipe away the tracks--hatred must be overcome by love.
The Risen One over the mound of rubble signifies the revelation of peace: hatred destroys and brings death.
Love conquers death because it has overcome hatred. Love alone bestows life and peace.
An excerpt from the book The Collected Writings by Arno Breker.
Translated from the German by Dr. Benjiman D. Webb.
Copyright C 1987 Edition MARCO/ABSI, 10545 Main Street, Clarence, New York 14031 (USA)
Copyright 2001 West-Art
PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, Politics and Science.