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heinz gappmayr


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light installation in the central stairwell of the danube university krems



The artist Hans Gappmayr, one of the key European proponents of concrete art, casually calls his work for a stairwell at the Danube University Krems Light Installation. The commission confronted him with precise stipulations: the location was a specific site, a stairwell, and this had an intrinsic functional necessity — so the lighting solution also had to be provided by the artwork.
Gappmayr reacted in various ways to the architectural prerequisites, from its features as an industrial building (a former tobacco factory) to the architecture of the stairwell itself. In a mathematically logical manner he tied the requirement for lighting to the symbolism of the stairs. Industrial light fittings serve as 'objets trouvés': one vertical and one horizontal light strip are mounted on the first floor, two vertical and two horizontal strips are mounted on the second floor and three of each on the third floor, whereby the last three together have been positioned to form a square, a geometric basic architectural form.
The horizontal mounting of the light fittings signals the level, while the vertical ones signal the connecting function of the stairs between two floors. More light has been installed on each floor successively, an allusion to the symbolism of the location: the university as an institution of learning, light as an anthropological metaphor for (universal) knowledge. With minimal means the artist succeeds in making the location more concrete in artistic terms in an impressive manner, so transcending it: the staircase as a symbol of life.
(Carl Aigner)
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