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Johannes von Stumm

Johannes von Stumm’s unique combination of three different materials has attracted public and critical acclaim in a decade of successful exhibitions, both in the UK and abroad. His startlingly original sculpture, which engages continually with risk and a defiance of accepted laws, joins iron, granite and glass to create abstract or reduced figurative works in which apparently conflicting materials exist in complex harmony. Von Stumm’s choice of media and instinct for experimentation is deeply rooted in his background, in a childhood and adolescence spent at the foot of the Alps with long winters, ice and rocks. His love of steel, in particular, is intertwined with his family history. Ancestors on his father’s side were blacksmiths and steel factory owners for 250 years. As a young man he painted on cardboard in the cellar of his parents’ house, mixing broken glass and metal objects into the paint.

At 18, during a visit to Paris, von Stumm was deeply moved by the power and beauty which he saw in Rodin’s sculpture. He immediately began to work figuratively with clay and plaster, first at home and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Six months spent in a quiet Italian village strengthened his desire to test the potential of glass, stone and steel combinations..

On returning to the Academy, he asked for help, only to be told that the alliance of these very different materials was impossible. The challenge was irresistible. After three years of breaking glass, he finally developed a way of joining these opposing forces in an inseparable unity. A form in which inter-dependent pieces hold each other upright and are often linked as a carpenter would join two pieces of wood. Such a breakthrough has proved rich in possibilities. In fifteen years of combining metal with glass and stone, Von Stumm has expanded the boundaries of expression. He's done this by fusing the strong and the fragile, the solid and the liquid, the dark and the transparent.

The most recent development of his work is his Immaterial Figures.  Here, in place of glass,  he uses negative space to create the imagery,  exploring archetypes such as the Buddha figure in Contemplation,  or the open arms of his Welcome figure.  In between these two quite distinct bodies of work sits his elegant sculpture, Grace,  whose simplified form suggests the ancient Goddesses.

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