Marta Klonowska - "My glass animals open a new reality."

Marta Klonowska brings back to life animals that have only played secondary roles in pictures for hundreds of years.
Marta Klonowska brings back to life animals that have only played secondary roles in pictures for hundreds of years.

Sculptures of animals have not enjoyed much popularity in contemporary art since 1945; at least not amongst the avant-garde. Not a single example of a classical, naturalist or abstract animal sculpture is listed in the standard publications on 20th-century art in the period following the Second World War. People have had more than enough of 19th century animal sculptors like August Gaul (1869-1921), Richard Scheibe (1879-1964), Ewald Mataré (1887-1965), Renée Sintenis (1888-1965), Gerhard Marcks (1889-1981) and Emy Roeder (1890-1971), all of whose works were amongst the high points of modern art between 1900 and the 1930s. People were also fed up with “conservative-style sculptures of animals” – they had also, of course, existed in the second half of the twentieth century - because, until the end of the 1980s they had been placed all over the country in new housing blocks and parks as supposedly apolitical decorative works to “raise people’s spirits” (Katrin Etringer).

Animal sculptures only began to gain in significance for the avant-garde with the arrival of contemporary art genres like object art, performance, installation, environment and concept art. However what mostly inspired contemporary artists were not the animals themselves but the symbols and myths that surrounded them. Joseph Beuys’ works are shot through with manifestations of animals in objects, actions and environments. His wax sculpture “The Queen Bee” (1952) was his first formulation of sculpture as a process somewhere between organic life, crystalline structures, liquefaction and solidification. Beuys himself declared that his legendary action how to explain pictures to a dead hare (1965) “conveys a sense of the secrecy of the world and of existence […] even a dead animal preserves more powers of intuition than some human beings with their stubborn rationality.” In his environmental work Hirschdenkmäler (The Stag Monuments) first exhibited in 1982 in the Berlin Gropius-Bau, clay Urtiere (primaeval animals), goats and a stag in the form of powerfully abstract assemblages of wood and everyday articles embody primitive powers and myths. “A stag appears in times of necessity and danger. It is the expression of a special element: the warm positive element of life” In one of his last actions Beuys himself imitated a Coyote (1984) and, according to Nam June Paik, thereby captured the atmosphere of the central Asian steppes. Nancy Graves interpreted her life-size reconstructions of an ice age Dromedary (1968/69) made of skin, canvas, wax and oil paints on a frame of wood and steel as an “abstract sculpture”, i.e. the embodiment of an idea. Bruce Nauman culminated years of work on bodies and spaces in a presentation of piled up, tied together, seemingly cloned, mutilated wild animals made of rigid foam and hanging on a framework of wood, iron and wire (Animal Pyramid, 1989). Damien Hirst made a name for himself at the start of the 1990s with formaldehyde stuffed fish and vertebrate animals that he placed in glass cases as provocative metaphors of aggression and vitality, art and conservation, life and death, or sickness and science. 

Mediathek
  • Henry the Pious of Saxony and his Wife Katherine of Mecklenburg after Lucas Cranach the Elder, 2003. Metal, glass, the duke’s dog: 117 x 50 x 127 cm, the duchess‘ dog: 44 x 25 x 58 cm, shoes: 28 x 12 x 10 cm.

    Ill. 1a: Henry the Pious of Saxony, 2003

    Henry the Pious of Saxony and his Wife Katherine of Mecklenburg after Lucas Cranach the Elder, 2003.
  • Henry the Pious of Saxony and his Wife Katherine of Mecklenburg after Lucas Cranach the Elder, 2003. Inkjet print on paper, 40 x 20 cm.

    Ill. 1b: Henry the Pious of Saxony, 2003

    Henry the Pious of Saxony and his Wife Katherine of Mecklenburg after Lucas Cranach the Elder, 2003.
  • The Arnolfini Wedding after Jan van Eyck, 2003. Metal, glass, dog: 43 x 48 x 26 cm, shoes: 15 x 38 x 35 cm.

    Ill. 2a: The Arnolfini Wedding, 2003

    The Arnolfini Wedding after Jan van Eyck, 2003.
  • The Arnolfini Wedding after Jan van Eyck, 2003. Inkjet print on paper, 27,3 x 20 cm.

    Ill. 2b: The Arnolfini Wedding, 2003

    The Arnolfini Wedding after Jan van Eyck, 2003.
  • The Young Ones after Francisco de Goya, 2003. Metal, glass, 65 x 25 x 35 cm.

    Ill. 3a: The Young Ones, 2003

    The Young Ones after Francisco de Goya, 2003.
  • The Young Ones after Francisco de Goya, 2003. Inkjet print on paper, 29 x 19, 6 cm.

    Ill. 3b: The Young Ones, 2003

    The Young Ones after Francisco de Goya, 2003.
  • Portrait of the Duchess of Alba (red) after Francisco de Goya, 2003. Metal, glass, 38 x 44 x 25 cm.

    Ill. 4a: Portrait of the Duchess of Alba, 2003

    Portrait of the Duchess of Alba (red) after Francisco de Goya, 2003.
  • Portrait of the Duchess of Alba (red) after Francisco de Goya, 2003. Inkjet print on paper, 29 x 19 cm.

    Ill. 4b: Portrait of the Duchess of Alba, 2003

    Portrait of the Duchess of Alba (red) after Francisco de Goya, 2003.
  • The Morning Walk after Thomas Gainsborough, 2004. Metal, glass, dog: 48 x 73 x 73 cm, shoes: 10 x 15 x 20 cm, photo print on dibond, 179 x 236 cm.

    Ill. 5: The Morning Walk, 2004

    The Morning Walk after Thomas Gainsborough, 2004.
  • Presentation after Pietro Longhi, 2005. Metal, glass, 25 x 40 x 25 cm.

    Ill. 6a: Presentation, 2005

    Presentation after Pietro Longhi, 2005.
  • Presentation after Pietro Longhi, 2005. Inkjet print on paper, 66 x 55 cm.

    Ill. 6b: Presentation, 2005

    Presentation after Pietro Longhi, 2005.
  • Portrait of a Lady Holding Her Pet Prince Charles Spaniel after Jan Verkolje, 2006. Metal, glass, dog: 39 x 49 x 26 cm, shoes: 25 x 15 x 15 cm, inkjet print on paper, 27 x 33 cm.

    Ill. 7: Portrait of a Lady, 2006

    Portrait of a Lady Holding Her Pet Prince Charles Spaniel after Jan Verkolje, 2006.
  • Venus and Adonis after Peter Paul Rubens, 2008. Metal, glass, 68 x 120 x 30 cm, inkjet print on paper, 95 x 138 cm.

    Ill. 8a: Venus and Adonis, 2008

    Venus and Adonis after Peter Paul Rubens, 2008.
  • Venus and Adonis after Peter Paul Rubens, 2008. Metal, glass, 68 x 120 x 30 cm (detail).

    Ill. 8b: Venus and Adonis, 2008

    Venus and Adonis after Peter Paul Rubens, 2008.
  • Venus and Adonis after Peter Paul Rubens, 2008 (detail, exhibition “Streichelzoo”, museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf, 2008).

    Ill. 8c: Venus and Adonis, 2008

    Venus and Adonis after Peter Paul Rubens, 2008 (detail, exhibition “Streichelzoo”, museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf, 2008).
  • Goat after Alexander Keirincz and Cornelis van Poelenburch, 2008. Metal, glass, 165 x 119 x 45 cm, inkjet print on paper.

    Ill. 9: Goat, 2008

    Goat after Alexander Keirincz and Cornelis van Poelenburch, 2008.
  • Large Kitchen Still Life after Michel Bouillon, 2009. Metal, glass, 94 x 58 x 44 cm.

    Ill. 10a: Large Kitchen Still Life, 2009

    Large Kitchen Still Life after Michel Bouillon, 2009.
  • Large Kitchen Still Life after Michel Bouillon, 2009. Inkjet print on paper, 95 x 72, 5 cm.

    Ill. 10b: Large Kitchen Still Life, 2009

    Large Kitchen Still Life after Michel Bouillon, 2009.
  • Lynx after a Sketchbook Page by Albrecht Dürer, 2009. Metal, glass, 86 x 50 x 60 cm.

    Ill. 11a: Lynx, 2009

    Lynx after a Sketchbook Page by Albrecht Dürer, 2009.
  • Lynx after a Sketchbook Page by Albrecht Dürer, 2009. Inkjet print on paper, 26,4 x 39,7 cm.

    Ill. 11b: Lynx, 2009

    Lynx after a Sketchbook Page by Albrecht Dürer, 2009.
  • Das Bildnis der Marquesa de Pontejos nach Francisco de Goya, 2011. Geschnittenes Flachglas auf Metall-Konstruktion, Hund: 45 x 20 x 45 cm, Schuhe: 25 x 10 x 15 cm, digitaler Tintenstrahldruck auf Papier, 27 x 17 cm.

    Ill. 12a: La Marquesa de Pontejos, 2011

    La Marquesa de Pontejos after Francisco de Goya, 2011.
  • La Marquesa de Pontejos after Francisco de Goya, 2011. Metal, glass, 45 x 20 x 45 cm.

    Ill. 12b: La Marquesa de Pontejos, 2011

    La Marquesa de Pontejos after Francisco de Goya, 2011.
  • La Marquesa de Pontejos after Francisco de Goya, 2011. Inkjet print on paper, 27 x 17 cm.

    Ill. 12c: La Marquesa de Pontejos, 2011

    La Marquesa de Pontejos after Francisco de Goya, 2011.
  • Maki, 2011. Metal, glass, 124 x 80 x 37 cm.

    Ill. 13: Maki, 2011

    Maki, 2011.
  • Lady Walking Her Dog after Claude Louis Desrais, 2012. Metal, glass, 75 x 35 x 65 cm.

    Ill. 14a: Lady Walking Her Dog, 2012

    Lady Walking Her Dog after Claude Louis Desrais, 2012.
  • Lady Walking Her Dog after Claude Louis Desrais, 2012. Pígment print on dibond, 144 x 100 cm.

    Ill. 14b: Lady Walking Her Dog, 2012

    Lady Walking Her Dog after Claude Louis Desrais, 2012.
  • Garden View with a Dog after Tomas Yepes, 2014. Metal, glass, 45 x 45 x 30 cm, inkjet print on paper, 27 x 39,5 cm.

    Ill. 15: Garden View with a Dog, 2014

    Garden View with a Dog after Tomas Yepes, 2014.
  • Demoiselle en Polonoise unie en Buras after Claude Louis Desrais, 2014. Metal, glass, dog: 45 x 55 x 30 cm, shoes: 15 x 25 x 10 cm, inkjet print on paper, 37 x 26 cm.

    Ill. 16a: Demoiselle en Polonoise unie en Buras, 2014

    Demoiselle en Polonoise unie en Buras after Claude Louis Desrais, 2014.
  • Demoiselle en Polonoise unie en Buras after Claude Louis Desrais, 2014. Metal, glass, 45 x 55 x 30 cm (back view).

    Ill. 16b: Demoiselle en Polonoise unie en Buras, 2014

    Demoiselle en Polonoise unie en Buras after Claude Louis Desrais, 2014.