Menu

Konrad KLAPHECK

(1935)


In 1954, Konrad Klapheck enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf. Tachism had become important in Germany in the 1950s, and Klapheck in 1955 painted a typewriter in the spirit of confused realism. The artist thus revealed what was to be one of he essential themes of his work painting realistically a simple typewriter became the first element of a dictionary of machines and everyday objects (sewing machines, irons, shoe holders, bicycles and so on) which would become richer over the years In spite of the perfect geometry and the reference to our everyday life, these objects are often improbable and enigmatic. André Breton, who in 1965 wrote a preface for the catalogue of the exhibition in the Sonnabend Gallery described them in this way: “the instruments (that Klapheck) chooses are part of our familiar inventory, but his objective is to ignore their particular use, in order to impose his enlarged image.” Breton met Konrad Klapheck and bought a canvas called Liberty, Love, Art. Klapheck’s titles, which refuse to limit the work to simple plasticity, are not an expression of disrespect for the founders of Surrealism. The Maeght Foundation’s The Demon of Progress shows a drawing of a motorcycle. But this is not about hyper-realism; the machine is actually incredible, closer to engineering than to commercial photography. For an amateur, some details make it unusable: not only are some parts missing, including two cylinders, with some parts not in the right place, like the pedal for the rear brake, others are unnecessary or made too small, like the fork, which would be more suitable for a push bike. The motorcycle is seen from an impossible angle, which might be seen by a pedestrian or a worker turned upside down. The machine, then, takes on a magnificent dimension, doubled according to the format of the canvas and dominates the observer. The silhouette of the machine is designed by the arrangement of the construction that is shaped around it like a scaffold and manages to monumentalise it. The hard lines on greenish canvas do not contribute to the humanization of the machine closer to the disturbing uncommonness of the machine of Marcel Duchamp than to a racing machine. In 1974 the first retrospective of his works was organised in Rotterdam, Brussels and Dusseldorf. In 2005 the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg presented the first retrospective exhibition of this artist in a public institution in France. Klapheck lives and works in Düsseldorf.