Empty rooms, abandoned corridors and the monotonous buzz of the ventilation system: Even at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, the paintings and sculptures cannot unfold their effect in front of the public at the moment. Ulrike Groos stands in front of the picture “Bröckelnde Facades” by Volker Böhringer
and talks about why she is moving this very image in times of crisis.
Why is this picture painted in 1935 so fascinating to you?
“I am fascinated by how the buildings are depicted in this urban landscape. It’s true here. past and present. One sees, for example, a residential building, but what antiquity imitates neoclassical. Here you can see these marbled columns with Corinthian capitals above. But everything is as if it is in disintegration. It is as if the world has fallen apart. Also the Architrave, bursts. You also have this house with these very beautiful bay windows on the spire of the field a weather vane in the form of an angel. Next to it is a Gothic church, where the rider has already broken off. Here, too, everything dissolves. And then there is this industry, where many, these bricks, facades, this brick vents, these chimneys, which already carry deep cracks, which tilt dangerously and which, in their brand value quality, all threaten to collapse into the sky. I find this a very fascinating analysis. It is also interesting that this urban landscape is almost deserted. The only thing that can be seen in the human is a tennis court at the bottom right in the corner, where a lonely figure lifts the racket. But you can’t say it’s a man or a woman. It is a shady figure, completely dressed in white, without a face, without a gender. So everything, as you said, is very surreal, also very threatening, in a way. Because everything takes place under bright sunshine with blue skies.”
When the audience returns, why should they pay particular attention to this image?
“We usually let our visitors in it to see for themselves what certain works have to do with our present. I think that in the future people will certainly remember that this painting also represents a time of crisis. For a change, Böhringer has also painted the change of the world here. The emerging industrial landscape, the factories that were built there, on the one hand, have fascinated, but on the other hand have also destroyed nature. All of this matters.”
Böhringer was harassed by the Nazis, was unsuccessful, died early. Who is he for you?
“And he always said myself I have to paint even harder than Otto Dix. He has also seen himself in such a claim, has revered Otto Dix very much and, above all, has taken a very close look at his surroundings. He was a very critical analytical painter, a very close observer and, of all that he saw, he closely observed this phase of the second industrialization, how these river landscapes of the Neckar Valley have turned into industrial landscapes, and then painted and painted with an excellent way of painting. After all, it is the glaze painting, in other words an old master technique, where he has laid a lot of layers of paint on top of each other, oil and tempera on hardboard, and that really makes this picture shine. And I really think it’s time to honor this painter, and we’ve been thinking for a while about how best to do that.”