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Josef Wackerle is a sculptor of primal power

Monumental figures at the Olympia Complex in Berlin and in Munich


By Joe F. Bodenstein




(C) Josef Wackerle 1955 -Wackerle Archiv/VG MARCO


München / Berlin (bpb) Two monumental figures „Man Leading a Horse" decorate since 1936 the Marathon Gate in the Olympia Complex in Berlin. The sculptor Josef Wackerle (1880-1959) created these sculptures. The art historian Kurt Lothar Tank wrote in „Deutsche Plastik der Zeit", that just like Karl Albiker, also Wackerle accomplished with his "men leading horses of the Reich Sport Field a work of art, which in its closed, powerful form ranks them among the very best works in the monumental sculpture up to now".

Wackerle was 56 years old when he completed these works. He belonged to the sculptores about whom the German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had a good opinion. The visit of the Führer in Wackerle's atelier (then a great honor) brought the artist after 1945 sharp criticism and neglect. In the official art business of West Germany after 1945, Wackerle's name was on the "black list". He did not receive any commissions in the democratic society. Even in the year 2004 is Wackerle treated as an outlaw by German government institutions as well as by the art historians who depend on the government. Wackerle died on March 20, 1959 in his hometown of Partenkirchen in Bavaria, highly esteemed and valued by the friends of his art.

Josef Wackerle was born on May 15, 1880 in Partenkirchen. For hundreds of years, his ancestors lived in the area of Partenkirchen and Mittenwald. Most of them were farmers. One of his grandfathers was a woodcutter, and his father was a builder. The talent for art in Josef Wackerle was discovered already at the age of 13 years in the woodcutting school in Partenkirche. He continued his education at the Commercial Arts School and then at the Art Academy in Munich. Adolf von Hildebrand influences Wackerle, just as he did later on the sculptor Arno Breker. Study trips to France, Italy and the Scandinavian countries enlarged the vision of the talented Bavarian. At the age of 26 years, Wackerle becomes the artistic director at the Numphenburg Porcelain Factory in Munich. From 1913 to 1917 he works as a teacher at the department of the Commercial Arts School in Berlin, where he cooperates among others with Bruno Paul. In 1917 he became the successor of Flossmann on the Commercial Art School in Munich. Since 1924 he has been teaching at the Art Academy in Munich until the end of the Second World War. Then all his public duties and positions were suddenly terminated.




(C) Josef Wackerle 1955 .-Wackerle Archiv/VG MARCO


Josef Wackerle has created war memorials in Kehlheim, Partenkirchen, Nürnberg, Schweinfurt, and other cities. During the Third Reich, Wackerle generally worked on projects together with the architect Ludwig Troost. His style of those days is known as "tectonic sculpture", in which movement and Baroque forms are combined. His best known work, the Neptune Fountain in Munich, is inaugurated on May 29, 1937. The main basin was created by Professor Biber. Wackerle also created a series of commissions for prominent buildings. Among them are reliefs for the hotel Rheinischer Hof (Father Rhein) in Munich, the high-rise building of the Zeiss optics company in Jena (Through Night Towards Light), as well as the four meter high bell figures at the high-rise building in Leipzig (in cooperation with the architect Troost). From 1936 the admired and successful sculptor is member of the Reich Cultural Council, followed by membership in the Presidential Council of the Reich Cultural Chamber. On the occasion of his 60th birthday in 1940, Adolf Hitler nominates Wackerle for the award of the Goethe Medal for Art and Science.



Copyright 2004 West Art, Prometheus 93


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Copyright 2004 West-Art

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, News, Politics and Science.

Nr. 93, Autumn 2004