Is it possible that the artist’s worldview is different from that of our own? Are artists successful in depicting reality because “they see more” or do they “see more” because they have acquired the skill to do so? Moreover, the German conceptual artist Ottmar Hörl raises important questions regarding perception while challenging the pedestal of art and the hierarchical concepts and figures of culture through his various sculptures and installations.
Until July 31st, 2017 Ottmar Hörl set an installation of his Weltanschauungmodell IA (Worldview Model IA) at the Blindeninstitut am Dachsberg (School for the blind on Dachsberg), which raises important issues on the subjective and individual experience of perception and its mechanisms. The same way, through which by closing our eyes, we cannot grasp the concept of being blind, Ottmar Hörl’s Worldviewers explore the limitations of our perception and understanding, when it comes to sensing the vast complexity of the world around us.
Hörl’s ability to raise social commentaries and challenges on art
Born in 1950 in Nauheim, Germany the German conceptual artist Ottmar Hörl moved to Frankfurt am Main in 1975 to study at the Academy of Fine Arts and continued his studies in 1979 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf. In 1985 Hörl founded the group Fomalhaut, with the architects Gabriela Seifert and Götz Stöckmann. In 1992-93 Ottmar Hörl received a visiting professorship with the group Fomalhaut at Gratz University of Technology in Austria. Hörl’s ability to raise social commentaries and challenges on art through his playful artworks have led him to have a successful artistic trajectory and be the recipient of multiple awards throughout his career.
In 1994, Hörl with the Fomalhaut group received the Förderpreis für Baukunst (Grant for Architecture) by the Academy of Arts in Berlin. In 1997 Hörl received the Art Multiple Award at the International Art Fair. The city of Darmstadt awarded Ottmar Hörl the Wilhem Loth Award in 1998, and the Intermedium Award in 2002 along with Rainer Römer and Dietmar Wiesner.
Most recently, Ottmar Hörl received the CREO Innovation Award for Creativity, Frankfurt M./Mainz by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kreativität (German Society for Creativity). Since 1999 Ottmar Hörl became a professor of Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg and later became the president of the academy since 2005, where he continues to hold this position.
Horl’s artistic explorations and worldview
When describing his artistic explorations and worldview on conceptual art and style, in 1992 Ottmar Hörl states that “As an artist, I have to develop an idea that goes beyond just setting a little mold down somewhere. The idea must attempt to put contemporary thinking into a nutshell and people can start building their own personal structure from there. As an artist, rather than trying to depict a certain form as good and feasible, I would like to provide stimuli by dint of my work.”
Owls on the occasion of the Olympic Games, Athen (2004)
Some of Ottmar Hörl’s installations include the sculptural project featuring 10,000 Owls in Athens for the Olympic Games in 2004, extending through a 4000 Square Metre space, transforming the five colored rings to colored squares.
Goethe and Charlemagne in 2014
The 500 Charlemagne sculptures installed to celebrate the Year of Charlemagne in the city of Aachen in 2014; and the 400 Goethe sculptures installation at Campus Westend in Frankfurt am Main to celebrate the centenary of Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in 2014; amongst many others.
Karl Marx in 2014
Indeed Ottmar Hörl’s convictions on conceptual art are also evidenced in his 2013 installation at Porta-Nigra-Platz in Trier. He featured 500 statues representing the 19th-century polymath and social reformist, Karl Marx whose bicentennial birthday will be celebrated next year. Through his 1848 work Das kommunistische Manifest and Das Kapital written in collaboration with the German philosopher Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx presents his important criticisms on politics, societal stratification, and economics (i.e., Marxism). It led him to be regarded as one of the most influential figures in history, through his conceptions on socialism.
Ottmar Hörl clearly displays to the audience Marx’s egalitarian normative theories through the multiplicity of his image. He invited the viewer to visualize the democratic interpretation of his ideas, his own worldview.
The Nuremberg Madonna (2017)
Another recent installation by Ottmar Hörl took place from September 1st to September 14th featuring 600 Golden Nuremberg Madonna in Kornmarkt Platz in Nuremberg in collaboration with the Germanisches Nationalmuseum where the original Madonna sculpture dating to around 1550 currently resides. The limewood Nuremberg Madonna sculpture has been the subject of extensive research, studies from art students throughout the years, and religious adoration around the 19th century. Scholars believe that although the Dominican Nuremberg Madonna sculpture is a unique artwork, it was not a separate work and rather believed to be part of a crucifixion group of sculptures accompanied by Christ on the cross and with St John and the Virgin Mary mourning at his feet.
Despite the extensive scholarship written on the Nuremberg Madonna, her carver remains unknown. The Dominican Church, in which the Nuremberg Madonna was held, collapsed in 1807 and in 1880 the city of Nuremberg gave the sculpture on a permanent loan to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum.
Although Ottmar Hörl’s 600 Golden Nuremberg Madonna preserve their holiness stature and divinity through their gold color rendering and the stands in which there are exhibited across Kornmarkt Platz, Hörl continues to strive for egalitarianism in art through the vast multiplicity of the sculptures and the displacement of the Nuremberg Madonna from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum to a public space.
Martin Luther – Here I stand (2010)
Ottmar Hörl’s previous exhibition in 2010 “Martin Luther – Here I Stand” featuring 800 Luther sculptures in the market square of Wittenberg. It evidences that here Hörl’s aim was different in terms of taking Martin Luther “off the pedestal” and representing him in the reachable, accessible and egalitarian interpretation of his protestant reformation, which is considered to start with the publication of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses on October 31st, 1517.
The 600 Golden Nuremberg Madonna are not taken off the divine pedestal, but like the 800 Luther sculptures, the multiplicity of the figures argues for a democratic and all-including perception of the legendary Nuremberg Madonna sculpture.
How Hörl embraces Conceptual Art and his worldview
In 1967 the Minimalist sculptor Sol LeWitt in his essay “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” stated that “the idea or the concept is the most important aspect of the work…all planning and decision[s] are made beforehand, and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes art.” Unlike other artists, conceptual artists like Ottmar Hörl do not think about how can they best express their idea using certain materials or techniques, but rather the conceptual artist selects the materials and the medium that would best fit their aesthetic aims.
Hörl through his public space installations and the use of plastic to make his mass-reproduced sculptures aim to destroy the elitist elements of art that separate it from the viewer, and successfully promote his own worldview of art by encouraging interaction and conversation between his artworks and –not just some- but everyone in society.
Musart Boutique is the exclusive distributor in the U.S.A. for Ottmar Hörl‘s collection of statues.