60 x 60 x 8 cm
Acrylic on chipboard
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artist
After the German sculptor Josef Neuhaus (born 1923 in Essen, died 1999 in Neuss, Germany) completed his studies at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1945–1950), his style began to evolve gradually from figuration to abstraction. In 1955, a radical shift occurred in this development, and Neuhaus adopted a strictly geometric vocabulary of forms. At this time, he also began striving toward a reliable “language of space” through formal reduction, the pure color of white, and the dimension of light it absorbs. Instead of exploring this theme linearly, however, Neuhaus periodically circled back to earlier phases of his own work, returning to his earlier expressions by reviewing their structures of order. His “language of space” focuses on the relationship between interior and exterior space, between open and closed. It can be found in open grid structures of beams, or compact forms that have narrow gaps and crevices or slightly protruding bas-reliefs. With few exceptions, his primary material was wood, which he covered in an opaque layer of white paint, thus neutralizing it and letting it function purely as a carrier. The color white was also significant to him because it reflects light in a way that enhances our spatial perception, drawing our eye to the delicate shading effects of even the tiniest indentions or elevations. In his work “Relief 1973-25” from 1973, for example, our gaze concentrates on the square gap cut into the work that interrupts the white surface like a thick dark line.
Although Josef Neuhaus’ work displays similarities to Minimal Art, his artistic goals were completely different. The driving force behind the artist’s formal reduction was his search for content—namely, the spiritualization of space through form, color, and light.