"Rudolf Belling – Aesthetic and Ideological Struggles". Lecture by Burcu Dogramaci and Gürsoy Doğtaş


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Rudolf Belling, who, with works like "Triad" (1919), created incunabula of Abstract Expressionist sculpture and was at the forefront of the avant-garde, suddenly returned to making figurative sculpture for several decades. This stylistic ambivalence became apparent in 1937, when Belling presented works in the two major antipodal propaganda exhibitions, "Degenerate Art" and the "Great German Art Exhibition". His work "Triad" was defamed in the vilifying show "Degenerate Art", while his sculpture of the boxer Max Schmeling was presented as an expression of official Nazi culture in the "Great German Art Exhibition". The two exhibitions were staged just a few hundred meters away from each other in Munich. "Matt Magazine", an artist zine by Gürsoy Doğtaş, explores this ambivalence, which is also reflected in Belling's further work. In 1936, the sculptor moved to Istanbul, where he lived in exile for 30 years. He was appointed to the art academy there and developed its sculpture curriculum. This position was prominent in the young, secular Turkey, because the identity-seeking republic regarded sculpture in particular as "commissioned art" to be used in the service of the state. The diverse aesthetic and ideological transitions and breakthroughs manifested in Belling's work are presented in the common lecture by Doğtaş and Burcu Dogramaci. At the same time, the lecture follows the historical narratives of art history and expands on these to open up a looser field of associations similar to the collage-style of "Matt Magazine". Following the lecture, Sabine Brantl, co-curator of the exhibition "Histories in Conflict" in which two of Belling's works are presented, conducts a discussion with Dogramaci, Doğtaş, and the artist's daughter Elisabeth Weber-Belling. Burcu  Dogramaci wrote her doctoral thesis on "Cultural Transfer and National Identity. German-speaking Architects, Urban Designers and Sculptors in Turkey after 1927." Since 2009 she has been a professor of art history at the Institute for Art History at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. She is currently a senior researcher in residence at the Center for Advanced Studies, also at the Ludwig Maximilian University, where she is working on a research project on "art, exile, migration". Gürsoy Doğtaş is independent curator, and writer and, since 2006, editor of "Matt Magazine" As a board member of kunstraum muenchen, he recently curated a solo exhibition of works by Oraib Toukan. Since 2012 he has held a scholarship in the postgraduate program "Versammlung und Teilhabe" ("Meeting and Participation") at Hafen City University in Hamburg.

Lecture and discussion in German