Bronze art – what makes an ancient tradition modern
When we think of bronze art, we think of equestrian statues. If we wish it a bit more refined, then Alberto Giacometti might well appear before our mind’s eye. What we at least did not know, is that every major modern sculptor had his works cast in bronze, even if they were originally made of another material. Bronze casting as an expression of eternity. The heyday of bronze casting was during the period of classical modernism in sculpture, with artists such as Aristide Maillol, Auguste Rodin, Ernst Barlach and, of course, Alberto Giacometti. But how does the situation look in present-day Berlin?
Berlin is a fine outdoor museum of modern interpretations of bronze art. Bronze castings have a long tradition in this city. Some Berlin bronze foundries have been in casting traditional and modern bronze artworks for more than three generations. The bronze foundry that cast the quadriga for the Brandenburg Gate is still casting sculptures for world-famous artists.
Apart from this, Prussia’s kings and princes had a penchant for portraying themselves as national heroes in bronze. Equestrian statues galore! The alternative is provided by Henry Moore, for one, with his bronze sculptures in front of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt or the old Academy of Arts.
How bronze casting originated – fast forward through history
Metal casting techniques have been around since the Bronze Age, that is to say, for more than 4,000 years. Bronze casting reached one of its peaks as a form of art in ancient Greece in the fifth century BCE. We know this because sculptures from this period have survived, some of which lay for many hundreds of years on the sea floor before being found by chance and then salvaged. Bronze is extremely robust.
Today, bronze is cast using the original model technique
Whereas ancient sculptors cast their bronze using the so-called “lost” wax method, modern art foundries cast bronze with the “original model”. Original model bronze casting enables a perfect rendering of surface structures. A wooden sculpture cast in bronze still looks like wood, but can withstand every kind of climate.
Dietrich Klinge is one of those sculptors who creates his sculptures in wood and then has them cast in bronze. Quite different, yet equally expressive, are the bronzes by the Berlin painter and sculptor Rainer Fetting, whose works are displayed in Berlin and the city’s museums. You may have seen his larger-than-life depiction of Willi Brandt. Great bronzes were also designed by the recently deceased Berlin sculptor Rolf Szymanski. His “Fat hen” in the Britzer Garden in Berlin-Neukölln is a creature between abstraction and figuration, which is sure to enchant you. Some of his works are also found in front of the Berlinische Galerie.
One of the leading bronze art manufacturers in Germany is Edition Strassacker, which has been casting bronze with great dedication for four generations. This company works together with such renowned artists as Bruno Bruni and makes limited editions of the artist’s bronze sculptures available for sale.
This article was produced with the kind collaboration of artberlin.de.
From modelling to the final precision machining of the cast bronzes, the works in the Edition Strassacker are produced exclusively in our workshops in Süssen and by the hands of our craftsmen.