The body of work by German sculptor Inge Mahn reverses both the ready-made principle and the traditional concept of architectural sculpture. Constructions made of plaster represent most often real objects, departure being an autobiographical but undisclosed context in the artist’s life. The particular mode of construction, at times put in motion, doesn’t however recreate the form of the objects, but rather originates their ‘portrait’, thus questioning the scope of the term itself.
Former student of Joseph Beuys and in 1972 represented at documenta 5, one of the most influential exhibitions in history, Inge Mahn models the sculptural essence of commonplace objects, always taking the role of the observer into account.
"Inge Mahn’s sculptures are not created in isolation, but evolve within their specific spatial and situational contexts. They are autonomous only in part, since they react to preexisting architectonic and social structures, assume a stance that corresponds to them, advance objections, stir up our ideas about objects, spaces and rules. This body of work is an ongoing violation of the rules, it provides the impetus for a process of rethinking, reinterpretation, rebuilding. Outwardly this is manifested in the constant white of the works: here everything is being continually reshaped, remodeled, transformed."
Stephan von Wiese, Construction Sites. On the sculptural œuvre of Inge Mahn, in Inge Mahn. Baustellen/Construction Sites, Wienand Verlag, 2011
Image: Staffelei mit acht Bildern, 1978, plaster over wooden construction, 80 x 97 x 185 cm, plus 8 frames of various dimensions