In New York, Christina Kruse’s Bauhaus balancing act defies all sense of gravity
Bauhaus protagonist Oskar Schlemmer inspired the artist’s solo exhibition of new sculptural work at Helwaser Gallery
An esoteric, strength-testing sports instrument called a Cyr wheel seems an unlikely source of artistic inspiration, but that’s exactly what sparked the imagination of Christina Kruse. The German-born, New York-dwelling artist known for her photography had been buried deep in the work of Oskar Schlemmer, the Bauhaus polymath who turned the human body into geometry in his ballets, dances and theatre.
‘I was looking for ways to build a performance that is based on instinctive movement, creating an instinct-driven situation, that required me to learn technical movements rapidly – which in this case meant heightening the instinct to self-counterbalance,’ Kruse explains. ‘I designed a body suit – an arrangement of geometric shapes that would eventually alter if the instinct didn’t kick in early enough. The outcome of that geometric, alive form interested me: what would it look like if it failed at times, where would the volume of these body shapes be replaced to? It wouldn’t just disappear. And how far could the altered geometric body go on before it would collapse because of self-inflicted volume displacement?’
Kruse shares a natural affinity with the Bauhaus master, integrating design, art, and craft into each of her works, whether in two or three dimensions. She also shares their ‘absence of color and little sentiment or emotion’, explaining that to her ‘there is a beauty in its almost rational approach’. Between her studio in Jersey City, shared with a painter friend, and another space upstate, Kruse has spent the last two years creating a new body of wood, bronze and brass sculptures informed by Schlemmer, referencing the lines of human bodies.
Now on view at New York’s Helwaser Gallery until 25 July, her solo exhibition ‘Base and Balance’ presents this sculptural work alongside some of her drawings and sketches – presented, she says, in order to give the interiors of the sculptures their own rightful place. ‘Imagine you are in a circus and then you leave and someone puts a huge blanket over the circus leaving it looking like a big old shape – it’s something around those lines.’ The sculptures are loosely grouping to recall a tableau vivant, reflecting the practices of the Bauhaus. Schlemmer would have been proud. §