The chrome-nickel-steel sculpture Entfaltung (Unfolding) by Hans Uhlmann (Berlin, 1900 – 1975) was created in 1966 for the Bielefeld State School of Engineering and represents Uhlmann’s fifteenth commissioned work. As part of the exhibition Lynn Chadwick, Katja Strunz, Hans Uhlmann, in which we devoted ourselves in detail to the subject of folding in 20th and 21st century sculpture in the summer of 2019, the work travelled to the Waldsee on loan. There it can be seen until July 2020. So take the opportunity to have a look at this wonderful work and compare it with other sculptures by the sculptor in Berlin – especially with the sculpture in front of Deutsche Oper.
Hans Uhlmann was a trained engineer. It was not until the 1930s that he began private art studies in addition to his work as a lecturer at the Berlin Technical University. He created his first sculptures made of iron wire, which he exhibited in the Gurlitt Gallery. After the Second World War, Uhlmann gave up his bread and butter profession very soon. Without an artistic-academic education, he decided to dedicate his life to sculpture. Within a few years he developed into the leading steel sculptor in Germany. In the mid-1950s, Uhlmann accepted a professorship at the Berlin University of the Arts. Not only in Berlin was he soon one of the most sought-after German artists of the post-war period, winning numerous competitions for art in public spaces during the reconstruction and being invited to major international exhibitions.
Uhlmann’s first works after the Second World War were semi-abstract, lyrical creations, each created from a single wire that “drew” the body contours of birds and insects into the room. In keeping with the specifications of Antoine Pevsner and Naum Gabo, who called for a modern sculpture without body volume in the Realist Manifesto 1922/23, these works were transparent and reduced to a minimum of volume.
As a mathematically and technically oriented person, from the early 1950s onwards Uhlmann developed sculptures made of cut steel plates, which he placed in close dialogue with space as if they were folded out of paper. From 1962 onwards, this also included works like Entfaltung.
In contrast to the early wire sculptures, Uhlmann here thinks from the core of a form and unfolds it outwards. Above a diagonally directed support leg, our Entfaltung develops like a blossoming bud towards the light. The work was created for the exterior space of a university. This is where young people enter and leave who can develop, unfold and grow through education. Uhlmann always found such metaphors in his commissioned works that harmonized the use of the buildings with the formal vocabulary of his impressive works.
Read more about the sculptural works of Hans Uhlmann in public space in Berlin.
Here you can purchase the catalogue Beasts of the Times – Lynn Chadwick, Katja Strunz, Hans Uhlmann.
Photo: Roman März