• Paula Pötschick

Karl and the arts

I doubt very much that Karl Marx was an artist. The sculptures in Karl-Marx-Strasse in Frankfurt (Oder) are definitely not his work. But that is where the certainty about the creators of the art that adorn this street ends already. It is almost impressive how little the internet is giving us on this subject. But that doesn't stop me from taking a short walk through Karl-Marx-Straße and taking a closer look at these sculptures. The first of the sculptures on the left side of the street, directly behind the Lenné Passage, is the "Sonata" by Karl Höpert from 1985. My internet research did not reveal who Karl Höpert exactly is. How this almost cubist sculpture got its name can only be guessed at. But as always, that is in the eye of the beholder.

In order to make a chronologically meaningful walk and not to miss any sculpture, the path leads us across the street to the right side for the untitled, unclothed woman by W. Arnold from 1950. She doesn't necessarily look happy, standing there looking down at the ground. The drops of water running vertically down the (probably) copper statue also convey rather negative feelings. The next work of art is an ensemble on columns by Eckhard Horrntann with the title: "Sinnender auf Kapitell" ("Ponderer on Capital") from 1989. In addition to the seated ponderer, there is also a standing figure on a capital (capital describes the ornate pedestal on which the two are mounted), but the plaque has probably already been lost, so that it has to work without a title. Interesting about both columns is the respective lettering directly underneath the capital. One says: "A fool sometimes lets his spirit out - a wise man keeps to himself", while the other says: "Eitel Honig reden seynd nit ohn Lueg". With that, the right side of the street is artistically exhausted and we can turn back to the left.

There is a fountain here with the auspicious title "Leben" ("Life") by Christian Schulze from 1987. The important thing is that the water is not drinkable, although in retrospect I don't necessarily know whether water flows through it at all at any time of year. Perhaps cute and noteworthy are the four small animals at the four mouths of the water. A snail, a frog, a bird and a mouse. On top, knotted into each other, three people are sitting. I can't say exactly which arm and which leg belongs to which person. My favourite statue is the "Tower of the Animals" from 1982 by Lutz Hähnel. Not the only one of its kind. There is still a copy in Fürstenwalde/Spree. I don't know exactly which one was the first. Both show a hippopotamus, a bear, a goat, a hare and a raven on top. The reference to the Bremen Town Musicians cannot be overlooked. The penultimate statue is called "Pan" and shows an unclothed man sitting on a pedestal. This sculpture was made by Karl Möperl in 1985/87. According to my knowledge of Shakespeare, a Pan is a mythical creature, half human, half ram. The specimen in Karl-Marx-Straße has two feet with five toes each instead of the usual hooves. That is probably artistic licence. The bust of Karl-Marx concludes this walk. It was inaugurated on 5 May 1968 on the 150th birthday of Karl Marx. It is a combination of the bust by Fritz Cremers and the surrounding grounds by Arnd Wittig and Manfred Vogler.

In the end, some fundamental questions probably remain unanswered. For example: Why? Putting these sculptures in a context like this is probably an artistic achievement in itself. Nevertheless, art enhances everything in my eyes, and if we are honest, Karl-Marx-Strasse has always been in desperate need of it. In my opinion, art suits Karl well.

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