1965 - 1968
100.5 x 100.5 x 9.5 cm
Plexiglass, resin, wood
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Das Progressive Museum Basel
Klaus Staudt (born 1932 in Ottendorf, Germany) remarked in an interview from 2015 that he has always had a constructivist element within him, which is why he considered studying architecture as a young man. But then, when he was 22 years old in 1954, he decided to study medicine instead. He went to the University of Marburg, where he not only passed the preliminary medical exam, but also attended lectures in art history. During an academic year in Munich in 1957, he also took classes at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste as a visiting student. The decisive moment when he finally changed from medicine to Constructivist and Concrete Art occurred while he was visiting the documenta II in Kassel in 1959. The theme of the exhibition was abstraction. In addition to contemporary works – primarily gestural paintings, but also artworks by Concrete Artists like Max Bill and Piero Dorazio – it also featured several masters of 20th century art. The impressive presentation included Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, Auguste Herbin, Naum Gabo, and Kazimir Malevich – all pioneers of geometric abstraction and Constructivism. Staudt was impressed not only by the transcendental aspect of Malevich’s works, he also appreciated the constructed and architectural elements of Mondrian’s pictures.
Staudt succeeded in merging these two aspects in the beginning of the 1960s in his own oeuvre, which then consisted of reliefs, free-standing sculptures, and works relating to architecture. His work concentrated on the square and cube as modules built on the fundamental principles of seriality, structure, and systematics. These works are appealing in their ease, elegance, and rhythm and their play with light, plasticity, pictorial spaces, and movement in a way that subtly challenges our perception. Early in Staudt’s career, he was also inspired by the Nouvelle Tendance, a European art movement which he joined in 1963. Their renowned exhibitions reflected a shared interest in concepts that were developed according to the principles of Constructivism, serial methods, kinetic (light) effects, and the use of new materials.
White has dominated Staudt’s work from the beginning, and he only occasionally uses colors. These are sometimes in the form of colored Plexiglas panes that enclose the otherwise white objects. In some works, Staudt uses semi-transparent panes to create a space within the object that is divided into two levels. This lends the structural elements in front of the pane a constructive clarity, while the identical elements behind the pane appear painterly and blurry. Staudt’s gray relief, which is part of the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv, is exemplary for the works he developed in the second half of the 1960s. This object box has a square format with a grid inside formed by 10 x 10 small cubes turned in various directions and animated by light and shadow.
Parallel to his work as an artist, Klaus Staudt has also made a name for himself as a curator. In addition, he founded the Galerie nota in Munich together with Gerhard von Graevenitz and Jürgen Morschel in 1960. The gallery quickly became a prime venue for pioneering artists of Concrete Art, with exhibitions devoted to the likes of François Morellet, Otto Piene, and Heinz Mack. In his hometown of Otterndorf, Staudt managed the continued expansion of the original collection of the gallery Studio A 1974–1997, which is now housed in the Museum gegenstandsfreier Kunst. He was also a professor at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach from 1974 to 1994.