Renowned ‘Naturalist’ and ‘Expressionist’ sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck ((1881-1919) was born in Meiderich, Germany. In 1895, his career graph started to rise, when he attended the Kunstgewerbeschule to gain training on sculpture in Düsseldorf, Germany, and had an opportunity to display his works at the Grand Palais, Paris. Significant changes in Lehmbruck’s sculpturing style appeared during his stay in Paris (1910-1914), when he met Modigliani, Brancusi, Matisse, and Archipenko. Their associations inspired Lehmbruck to focus towards ‘Expressionism.’ Many of Wilhelm’s works were displayed during his stay in Paris including, “Kneeling Women” and “Standing Women,” Salon des Independents (1911), the Sonderbund-Exhibition (1912), and his most famous sculpture “Standing Youth” (1913). Wilhelm’s sculpture works, including nude females, have been recognized for an elongation common to Gothic Architecture.
Lehmbruck’s most famous sculpture “Standing Youth,” measuring 7’8″ x 331/2″ x 263/4″ (233.7 cm x 85.1 cm x 68 cm) is one of the unique creations. The artist’s mature sculpturing technique was evident in his cast stone sculpture of “Standing Youth,” in which the statue’s gothicized, elongated bodies with their angular posturing, and the display of growing from the earth, hint towards the ‘Expression’ of ‘Modern Heroism’ in sculpturing. “Standing Youth” focuses on the human body and is a fusion of ‘Naturalism’ and ‘Expressionism.’ With this sculpture, Wilhelm has made a compassionate tribute to his friends, who lost their life in the war.
“Standing Youth” has been done in style of ‘Found Art,’ where a sculpture seeks out objects to reflect its creator’s artistic vision. Wilhelm’s sculptures were often carved from marble, but with his “extrasensory tectonics,” he attained the breakthrough to the comtemporary age in bronze, cast stone, and terracotta figures. Most of his sculptures express deep longing for love and humanity, transcendence, inner peace, and purity. No doubt, Lehmbruck’s magnetic sculptures have made a tremendous mark in the field of ‘Expressionist’ sculpturing, which can stand brightly through time immemorial.
The negativities of World War I, left Wilhelm Lehmbruck overwhelmed and he went into depression. He ultimately committed suicide on March 25, 1919, at the age of 38, in Berlin. Lehmbruck left behind his legacy of magnificent, distinct, and awarded works. Wilhelm’s sculptures are gracing various art galleries and museum across the world, such as the Tate Gallery (London), the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), the Lehmbruck Museum (Duisburg), and the Städel Museum (Frankfurt), to name just some. “Standing Youth” is presently displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.