Kaspar Thomas Lenk, Skulptur-Raum-Konzeption, 1972, 7°37'7437"N 51°57.9674"E

Kaspar Thomas Lenk, Skulptur-Raum-Konzeption, 1972. Installation view


With his work Skulptur-Raum-Konzeption (Sculpture Space Concept) from 1972, Kaspar Thomas Lenk (1933–2014) created his first major architecture-related work, in connection with the construction of the Kleine Haus belonging to the Theater Münster (municipal theatre). The sculptor and graphic artist—known above all for his stacked sculptures—was inspired by the architectural features of the given space for the conception of his work: surrounded on three sides by the old and new foyer of the Theater Münster, it is delimited on the fourth side by the ruinous baroque façade of the Romberger Hof. As the latter had been severely damaged in the Second World War, destroyed elements were removed and the preserved façade was integrated into the new building of the theatre that opened in 1956. Adjacent to it is the so-called Kleine Haus, built in 1971 as an additional venue for contemporary, experimental theatre formats. The supplementary building served as a starting point but also presented quite a challenge for Lenk’s site-specific work. The elevated space of the inner courtyard with its various architectural features and spatial limitations exhibits multiple aspects—which Lenk has playfully alluded to and interrogated in his work.

The column, an integral element of the ruins, served as his primary motif. The work comprises three pairs of columns consisting of stacked concrete discs, placed slightly offset yet in one line, thus partitioning the distance between the ancient ruins and the new buildings. By this placement of columns, the artist deliberately challenges the rigid structure of the inner courtyard and at the same creates a tension between old and new architecture as well as material solidity and movement. He achieves this via a regular shift in the columns’ superimposed concrete slabs, whereby the pairs of columns assume an inclination that has the sculpture appear as if held in an unstable equilibrium. The tilted angle of the concrete slabs increases noticeably within the three pairs of columns. The principle of layering is not just a defining feature of this particular work by Lenk or the corresponding creative phase, but has become his unmistakable trademark. While it allows Lenk to represent a moving space in the most diverse variations, it also enables him to visualize an inherent instability in the permanent, as in the classic horizontal column fluting.

Kasper Thomas Lenk also employs stacked motifs similar to those in his sculptures for his graphic works. In addition, he uses bright colours to contrast with industrial backgrounds. It was these works that had attracted international attention and recognition, in turn leading to him being invited to the 4th documenta in Kassel in 1968 and representing the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1970 together with the artists Heinz Mack, Georg Karl Pfahler and Günther Uecker.

Constanze Venjakob