The sculptor and writer Wieland Förster is born in Dresden on February 12, 1930. As a young man, he experiences the war and the bombing of his native city. At the age of sixteen, he is imprisoned in Bautzen for three years, allegedly for possessing a weapon. After his release, he begins studying sculpture, initially in evening classes, before he is able to enroll at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Dresden and study with Walter Arnold (1909–1979). Later, he moves to East Berlin to continue his education with Fritz Cremer (1906–1993). Unimpressed by the stylistic standards and instruction of East German universities, he remains faithful to his concept of sculpture and creates his own picture of his time and its artistic currents; he is inspired by Aristide Maillol (1861–1944), Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966), and Henry Moore (1896–1986).
That also draws him to West Berlin to meet the sculptor Bernhard Heiliger (1915–1995). The public defamation of Heiliger at the university in Dresden brought the Berlin artist to Förster’s attention at the time. So, in the early 1950s, a friendly, collegial exchange begins that will last for decades.
Förster’s autonomous path challenges the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). In 1965, the minister of culture at the time, Klaus Gysi, even sees Kopf der Gelähmten (Head of the Lame Woman) as an insult to the socialist human being. Förster is prohibited from exhibiting. Nevertheless, the artist also has prominent advocates, and it is not possible to deny his importance in the art world. For that reason, he also becomes vice president and full professor at the Kunstakademie of the GDR.
On the occasion of his ninetieth birthday, the Kunsthaus Dahlem is dedicating a retrospective with sculptures from five decades to this important German sculptor; it will provide an account of Förster’s formal and stylistic developments and also refer to his engagement with German history and with his own biography.
This selection of works in Bernhard Heiliger’s former studio, located in the east wing of our building, has been made by Wieland Förster. He thus makes it clear which approaches in the oeuvre of the somewhat older artists impressed him or were important for him and engage in a dialogue of forms with his own œuvre.
The exhibition is supported by Freundeskreis Kunsthaus Dahlem – Bernhard Heiliger e.V.