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gottfried bechtold, spitz
gottfried bechtold, spitz
gottfried bechtold, spitz
gottfried bechtold, spitz
gottfried bechtold, spitz

gottfried bechtold



Although the term "cone" may be correct in a geometric sense, the sculpture rather reminds us of a calligraphic brush stroke, or a needle that tapers off to a point (a form which Bechtold has used often). Without its surroundings, the object has no story to tell. It is minimalistic and thus self-referential. By interacting with its environment, it becomes charged with information beyond materiality and form. Using this dualism as a basis, Gottfried Bechtold gave the cone a counterpart in the form of a stone Athena statue, looking at it from the other side of the towpath. She tells her own story as the goddess of wisdom and tactical warfare; the patron goddess of poets, philosophers, artists, and craftsmen; and the guardian of knowledge. The artist has made a double intervention here: He took this nineteenth-century sculpture – a gift to the community that has been standing here for many years – and turned it, so that Athena is facing the cone. He redirected her gaze and highlighted her eyes and the book in her hand by coating them in bronze. As a result, the installation reveals many layers of meaning. Bechtold positioned the cone subtly, but unmistakably, in relation to the historical sculpture, thus creating a kind of dialogue between the present and past. Through this confrontation, the space between the artefacts becomes part of the installation in the form of an immaterial sculpture, while time becomes accessible through space. At the same time, he reformulates the question of whether artworks refer only to themselves, or if they also refer to the world around them. By joining iconic and narrative thought in one of his “new alloys,” Bechtold seems to offer a refreshing solution for everyone still under the spell of dialectics – that both can be the case at the same time.

Gottfried Bechtold, whose career has transgressed all genres since the end of the 1960s, is one of the few early Austrian conceptual artists. Internationally, he has also made a significant contribution to pushing the envelope of the notion of sculpture. Already in 1972, he realized the work 100 Tage Anwesenheit in Kassel (100 Days on Location in Kassel), in which the artist appeared at different public places in Kassel for the entire duration of documenta 5, thus declaring the immaterial performance and the act itself a sculpture. In his more recent works, Bechtold continues to explore the limits of artistic action in a seemingly effortless manner, sometimes even referring to older works. His drawing Von Spitz bis Stumpf (From Pointy to Blunt) from 1972 comes to mind (because of the “Spitz” association). It is an unbroken, curved pencil line that crosses the sheet of paper from left to right, increasing in thickness as it progresses toward the lower edge: a perfect example of just how essential wordplay is in Bechtold’s work.

Gottfried Bechtold makes real history visible with his installation in the Wachau region, but through his intervention, he also invents a fictive history in which he plays with location and language in an allusion to the future. The town of Spitz thus gets a “point” (Spitz), while we are reminded in an ironic, even a self-ironic, twist that historiography is always a construction that depends on personal and contemporary views.
(Cornelia Offergeld)
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