PRINT September 1987


MÜNSTER RHINELAND—WESTPHALIA Pop. 266,000 Alt. 62m. 13C restored cathedral, 14C town hall, 18C palaces, Landesmuseum “Skulptur Projekte in Munster 1987” June 14–October 4. Hannover 186 km—Cologne 152 km—Osnabrück 57 km.

Donald Kuspit ????
Max Wechsler ????
Dan Cameron ????
Pier Luigi Tazzi ????
Ingrid Rein ????

TEN YEARS AGO IN MÜNSTER, Klaus Bussmann curated a large outdoor sculpture exhibition under the title “Skulptur 77.” And now Bussmann and Kasper König have organized a second such show, “Skulptur Projekte in Münster 1987.” The works, by a total of 53 artists from Europe and North America, are scattered throughout the city, wherever possible at sites of the artists’ choosing. Most of the artists have contributed one work, but there are opportunities to see more than one piece by a few of the participants. To plan one’s route around so that one can find all the work, one picks up a copy of a yellow pocketbook called Rundgang (Guide) at the Landesmuseum in the center of town. In it the sites are marked on a map. (With one exception—A. R. Penck’s, which is the office of Münster’s lord mayor.) Then one walks, or bicycles (Münster is a bicycle town), or, if it’s wet, and like a few of our lazy editors, takes a cab from piece to piece. (We noticed how quickly the cabdrivers became art critics.)

The Landesmuseum also has an exhibition of preparatory drawings and maquettes for certain projects, which gives a suggestion of some ideas so far unrealized. (One or two of them may have appeared since this writing.) Though most of the works will be removed after the show is over, some will remain permanently in their place.

Five contributors to Artforum spent some summer days exploring Münster and its art, and writing about them both. After stopping at the snapshots by Shigeo Anzai, please continue on for their remarks, which are arranged in a sequence one might follow when walking, bicycling, or driving through the city.

RUTHENBECK Reiner. Lodenfahne (Loden flag), 1987, loden and bicycles, installation view. ????
In the ornate inner courtyard if the Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Reiner Ruthenbeck has hung a long laden banner from a flagpole so that it drapes down over an arrangement of Münster’s omnipresent bicycles. The work is touching in its use of traditional and contemporary symbols. The bicycles ring with the absence of riders, as though they had been abandoned to art. I felt an impulse to ride one of them out of the museum, bringing it to life.

ADAMS Dennis. Bus Shelter IV, 1987, aluminum, wood, Plexiglas, two-way mirror, and photograph, ca. 117 x 181 3/8 x 121''. ????
Instantly recognizable in a photograph reproduced on the walls of Dennis Adams’ bus shelter, outside the Landesmuseum in a corner of the Domplatz, Münster’s large cathedral square, is Jacques Vergès, the lawyer who defended the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie in his recent trial in Lyons. The shelter’s constructivist form nostalgically takes up the Modernist call to arms, while its use of the advertisement like photograph communicates topical content. This is a brilliantly ambiguous architectural sculpture with an eloquently split personality. The piece’s mix of references to racism and revolutions is heady: Vergès has defended Palestinian revolutionaries as well as a National Socialist one, and Russian Constructivism emerged from a social revolution to make a revolution in art. In this cobblestoned square, to be so aggressively reminded of unresolved history is shocking. This time, no passerby can claim ignorance of the atrocities of Nazism.

The other subject of the work is the law. In one cropping of the photograph the judge sits above Vergès, separated from him by part of the shelter’s structure of steel beams, which also cuts off the top of Barbie’s head. The law itself is on trial here: how will it deal with criminals against humanity? When Adams’ work was made, a verdict had not been reached in the Barbie case, giving the piece a tension that was not erased when Barbie was found guilty.

Adams’ work is political in a number of senses. It asserts itself uncompromisingly in a public space associated with religion, implying that the concepts of the eternal and of the protection of the Father are bankrupt in the face of the factual. It reminds Germans of the country’s Nazi history, reminds the Catholic Church of its institutional neutrality toward Nazism, reminds the German government that it was once inhumane. It reminds the art world, gathered in Münster, of these facts too.

The bus shelter is also traditionally a place for posters or ads aimed at people sheltering themselves from the elements while waiting to move on. Adams’ piece will shelter the people who come to the Domplatz, most often for its cathedral, for its government buildings, to buy food at the market there, to visit the nervy museums and university. But the bus shelter is also a blemish, an accusation. it is an aggression against the business-as-usual of the square. Its structure declares the utopian goals of Modernism; its walls picture the modern world’s pathological reality. The work reminds us of one of the things good art can do: criticize the world in the act of integrating with it.

HUBER Thomas. Ein öffentliches Bad für Münster (A public bath for Münster), 1987, painted aluminum, ca. 10’ 8 11/16'' x 19' 6'' x 3 1/8''. ????
Near the western facade of the cathedral, high upon four thin legs, Thomas Huber has set a billboard, of the kind announcing a conduction site, which declares a future public baths for the town. The image for the billboard is suffused with the principle of sculpture: three round orange vessels like giant pumpkins. They invite us not so much to swim as to splash. They also invite us to an idea, for they symbolize the three states of water—solid, liquid, gas—and thus connote transitions and initiations, perhaps a witty modern equivalent o the cathedral’s baptistery. To move this imaginary project a little closer to reality, detailed plans are on display in the Landesmuseum.

ASHER Michael. Untitled, 1987, installation view. ????
In a recreation of a piece he did in Münster in 1977, Michael Asher’s work consists of a trailer, its location shifting weekly to one of 17 different locations around town according to a schedule outlined in the exhibition guide. In keeping with Asher’s work, the piece has a self-effacing, camouflage quality, which has a particular meaning in an exhibition that is so gung ho about the status of the work of art in public space. Additionally, it provokes reflections upon a work done in the past, a work that was itself a reflection upon the relation of art and public space at that time. It’s fitting, then, that this conceptual construct ultimately eludes translation into visual form, for although the trailer is there to be seen, its nondescriptness withdraws it from sight. One finds out where it is, seeks it through the streets; the real object of observation becomes what surrounds it.

TUTTLE Richard. Art and Music II, 1987, metal and wood, installation view. ( Art and Music II not shown.) ????
At opposite ends of a pair of passageways that lead west out of the Domplatz, Richard Tuttle briefly interrupts, as it were, the syntax of walking, breaks the flow, by mounting on the walls two works like commas or apostrophes. He makes us experience very consciously the way that leads from here to there, the transitoriness of being in between.

ANSELMO Giovanni. Verkürzter Himmel (Shortened sky), 1987, steel, ca. 54 5/8 x 3 7/8 x 3 7/8”. ????
A nun and priest are ambling slowly ahead, in earnest conversation; we are on the grounds of the university’s Catholic theological faculty, on a pretty walkway along the river Aa. They stop. I stop. We all notice Giovanni Anselmo’s steel post set in slightly from the path. They are first to read the inscription cut into the top: “Verkzürzter Himmel,” or “Shortened sky.” In the time it takes to read this, heaven has moved two steps closer.

RUCKRIEM Ulrich. Dolmit zugeschnitten (Cut-up dolomite), 1976, dolomite, ca. 10' 8 11/16'' x 23' 4 13/16'' x 46 13/16''. ????
There are works that seem to run through time by piercing it with their solidity–the ancient European dolmens and menhirs, covered with moss and memories, for example, or, in a different way, the early avant-garde art of our century, with its desire for material and tactile concreteness. Both of these return in the sculptures of Ulrich Rückriem, of which this exhibition has two. The first, Dolomit zugeschnitten (Cut-up dolomite), has been restored to the site by the riverside church called the Petrikirche that it occupied for the “Skulptur 77” show a decade ago. Against the church, it is dense as a mountain, human and megalithic, not so much a created object as a creature of space and form. Nine steles of dolomitic rock stand flank to flank in a row parallel to the church’s nave. Toward each end of the row they taper off in height; their faces toward the church are vertical, those toward the adjoining meadow are oblique, and the bases are similar but unequal rectangles. Wall, buttress, skyward push, mountain. If Rückriem’s elaboration of no-longer meaningful symbols of the church expresses an uneasiness with civilization, the spirit of the work rests in the primary forms of its construction, in the evidence of the process that has shaped it, in the honesty of its materials and the simplicity with which they have been treated. Abandoning the jargon of history, Rückriem revives a fundamental language that reconnects to our origins without renouncing the present.

BUREN Daniel. Tor (Gate), 1987, painted aluminum, ca. 172 x 172 x 4 1/16''. ????
One meets Daniel Buren’s striped portals at four of the traditional points of entry into the city’s once-walled monastic heart. One of Buren’s square arches, at a bridge over the Aa, has yellow stripes. Another, next to a remnant of the old wall (built between 796 and 1100 A. D.), has red stripes. The works seem festive, celebratory; the stripes, an eternal symbol, seem to commemorate the monks’ separateness from the world, their spirituality. The stripes don’t seem as transgressive in the street as in the gallery. They are subsumed and elevated by the site, which does them a favor.

ARMAJANI Siah. Study Garden, 1987, painted wood and aluminum, installation view. ????
Numerous university buildings are spaced through the town west of the Domplatz, and a group between the Petrikirche and the Landesmuseum completely encloses a lawn dotted with shade trees. Here, Siah Armajani has built one of the “gardens”—for “reading,” “meeting,” and “poetry”—that he has been spreading through the United States for many years now. Laid out in the space is an enveloping group of continuous forms—benches, a table, high-backed seats, and fences, in painted wood and aluminum. They stand essentially at right angles to each other, but passages, exits and entrances, open up asymmetrically and off center, so that one’s paths and positionings in the work have a nongeometrical fluidity. No one position of view has priority over any of the others; every movement gives rise to a new situation. One never finds any absolute point offering a total vision of the work, or resolving it in a potentially symbolic model. Armajani’s garden imposes no hierarchy of meanings. And it doesn’t alter the character of the site, or obscure its quality. Instead, it is the instrument of it.

Perhaps this is why I have always seen Armajani’s works as rafts (the painted wood, the clean functional forms disclosing an essential modesty) set very lightly on the waters of the environment in which they are situated. They delight in the aterritoriality of embarcation, and of meditation and poetry.

FILLIOU Robert. Permanent Creation—Tool Shed, 1987, installation view. ????
Robert Filliou’s Permanent Creation—Tool Shed, parked near the back of the Landesmuseum, is a simple wheeled hut of the kind one finds sometimes on construction sites or in the larger public parks. In Münster, and in the context of this show, it seems to serve as a tool shed for art—the whole city, after all, has become art’s construction site, a field for play, thought, and imagination in which everything demands our heightened attention and entices us to new forms of observation.

ARTSCHWAGER Richard. Ohne Titel (Fahrradstãndermonument B) (Untitled [Bicycle stand monument B]), 1987, cement and spruce trees, ca. 110 x 29 1/4 x 19 1/2''. ????
Richard Artschwager has given us a touching and useful piece having to do, like Reiner Ruthenbeck’s piece in the Landes-museum, with the fact that Münster is a bicycle city. A row of grooved concrete blocks outside the university’s Padagogisches Institut functions as a rack for these vehicles. Artschwager’s piece, set in the middle of this row, is a tall concrete column, its base and top reproducing the shape of one of the blocks, in effect monumentalizing them. Planted on its peak and base are small spruce trees, piquant in the stem context of the concrete.

In the guide, Artschwager’s piece is speculated upon as an allusion to Germany’s dying forests, and as a mockery of the Christmas tree—in other words, as negative in connotation. I felt differently: the work, located in the courtyard of the teachers’ college, seemed to me to signify that life can grow even in what look like the worst—heavy, inert—circumstances. One thinks of the students and the teachers, and of how Artschwager’s piece celebrates individual freedom and mobility and the coming and going of the college community. The work is as intimate and vital as bicycling. It is about spiritual as well as physical points of departure.

KLINGELHOLLER Harald. Die Wiese lacht oder das Gesicht in der Wand (The lawn laughs, or the face in the wall), 1987, yew trees and mirrored glass, ca. 58 1/2'' x 12' x 7 3/16''. ????
Harald Klingelhöller’s work is called Die Wiese lacht oder das Gesicht in der Wand (The lawn laughs, or the face in the wall), in a reference to a discourse on metaphor by the Munster philosopher Hans Blumenberg. Planted in the grass in the courtyard of the university’s law school, this gently curved low colonnade of mirrored slats works with sunlight as a sundial does. It also plays with the figures of those observing it or passing by, reflecting them now intact, now exploded into fragments. It is complemented by a group of young yew trees trimmed into what as they grow will become ball and pyramid shapes. The structure and the materials of the work give it an ability to be both abstract and figurative, both whole and fragmented, its fragility made flexible and luminous through its human scale. Does that human scale express a hope that the law will never be broken again on the inhuman scale it once was in Germany?

GENZKEN Isa. ABC, 1987, cement and steel, 46' 7 5/8'' x 36' 4 13/16'' x 15 3/8". ????
Like Richard Tuttle’s, lsa Genzken’s work defines, or redefines, a passage. The bottom half, a ceremonially high rectangular double arch, in cement, and so flat as to be almost sketchlike, bridges a much used plaza beside the university library, making clear the fact that this open space is in fact a pathway. The top half comprises open frames through which to see abstract pictures of real sky, like a diptych with an unstoppably dynamic relationship to the atmosphere.

LEWITT Sol. White Pyramid, 1987, fired cement block, ca. 16' 7'' x 16' 7'' x 16' 7''. (Black Form (Dedicated to the missing Jews) not shown.) ????
Beyond the park to the west of the city center lies a large Baroque palace, facing the town on one side and a series of gardens, ringed by the ramparts and moat of a former fort, on the other. On the center axis of the court before the palace stands Sol LeWitt’s altarlike Black Form; on the same axis, but on the building’s other side, at the far end of the gardens, is his sixteen-foot-high White Pyramid. Black Form, in fired cement block, is dedicated “to the missing Jews,” and is set where once was a memorial to Kaiser Wilhelm. The stepped and gleaming White Pyramid appears as an elevation of these victims and of their suffering.

LECCIA Ange. Untitled, 1987, combines; (Not shown). ????
At two sites on opposite sides of the town, Ange Leccia has created “arrangements” of identical objects set face to face. To one side of the palace courtyard two bullish combines confront each other, in a paraphrase of the mimesis theme for an era of mechanical reproduction.

KIRKEBY Per. Backstein-Skulptur (Brick sculpture), 1986–87, installation view. ????
Per Kirkeby’s two brick constructions in the park between town and palace not only recall previous works by the artist but reflect local architecture. (The brick Kirkeby uses is a traditional Munster construction material.) As one strolls by, then, one can find oneself not really heeding these pieces, which seem so consonant with their place. Yet one can’t help but carry away an image of them that reemerges in one’s memory somewhere else in the city. For all their reserve, Kirkeby’s tower and vacant pedestal have a visionary force. They don’t so much take possession of public space as they complement and enrich it. They fulfill a responsibility.

FABRO Luciano. Demeter, 1987, basalt and steel cable, ca. 39 x 78 x 27 1/4''. ????
Luciano Fabro’s Demeter conveys the fragility of a moment of culture and the loss of a mythic experience of nature. A riven block of rough basalt reveals, in negative space (it’s not really there), a softly parted mouth, the lips of the classical fertility goddess. They seem to be held open by a steel cable. Fabro has set his piece on the side of the road near the garden facade of the palace. This fragment of nature falls into one’s line of sight from a number of points on the road and in the gardens beyond it, recalling the placement of more traditional statues of the gods in more formal gardens elsewhere, and reminding us of the short space, to quote the notes in the guide. from “smile to abyss.”

MORELLET François. A la français (encore une Lois) (In the French style [one more time]), 1987, brick, installation view. ????
In three locations in the palace gardens, which are a park in the English manner, Francois Morellet has marked a quiet remembrance of geometry, and of the French-style landscaping that was originally planned here. A circle, a square, and a triangle are set into grass and path through a regularly spaced inlay of reddish bricks.

GRAHAM Dan. Oktogon für Münster (Octogon for Münster), 1987 ,wood metal, and mirrored glass, ca. 93 9/16 high x 142 3/8'' dam. ????
Dan Graham’s octagonal pavilion of mirrored glass, on the main path of the gardens, is a tour de force of perceptual conceit—a kind of perceptual folly. Standing outside, you and your environment are reflected in the mirrored walls, and you cannot see what is inside. From inside, the wall is at once a window and a mirror; you can see outside, and you can also see yourself. Any which way one looks, this is an elegant narcissism. And even though you can see outside from the pavilion’s interior, what you see is always removed, for the glass walls, whether as window or as mirror, separate you from it. You may end up studying these ambiguously transparent walls. Graham’s tidy, seemingly discreet little structure is in fact quite indiscreet. It is a diversion that becomes a claustrophobic net for the eye. In demonstrating the narcissism of perception, Graham confronts us with the inescapability of narcissism; he reminds us of the narcissism through which we always see the world, and shows us just how entrapping this narcissism always is.

HOLZER Jenny. You spit on them…, 1987, sandstone, ca. 13 5/8 x 59 1/4 x 19 1/2''. ????
A little beyond the usual gloomy war memorial–an ugly statue of a soldier in uniform, his helmet drawn down over his eyes–stand five of Jenny Holzer’s sandstone benches, on both sides of the path. Except in that they are new, they are similar to other seats scattered in this part of the gardens. Yet each is engraved with a text, and the texts speak of killings, of violence, in short of death—the killings of all wars, the violence of every day, the death of every man and woman. The works are typical of the tombs/benches that Holzer has installed in a number of exhibitions, indoors and out, over the past year or so, and her writing here is also beautiful—the best writing of hers that I know of in recent years, with an amazonian boldness marked by both pride and purity, by a severe New World frontier puritanism. Calamity Jenny.

(When I saw it the rain had only just stopped. Swarms of small flies covered the benches, complicating the punctuation of the texts. Among them, dignified and swift, was a bright orange ladybug with just two black dots: perfect.)

BRECHT George. Void-Stone, 1987, installation view. ????
North of the palace gardens, across the moat of the old fort, one finds grassy parkland meadows. Here lies one of the three unformed stones that George Brecht contributed to the exhibition; each stone bears chiseled into it the word “void.” These boulders–one of the other two is in an arcade near the Prinzipalmarkt, the second next to a university building west of the Domplatz—are clearly meant for meditation, clearly rich with connotations. They can be understood, for example, as memento mori, or as markers of a civilization that has been voided by time but knew this stone would last. Much as the rocks ripple in one’s sensibility, the word ripples in one’s mind. The uniting of the solidity of the rock with the emptiness signified by the word is a wonderful puzzle to encounter.

FINLAY Hamilton. (and Nicholas Sloan), A Remembrance of Annette, 1987, English sandstone, ca. 13 5/8 x 29 1/4 x 7 13/16''. ????
Mein Lieder werden leben / wenn ich längst entschwand”: My songs will live / Long after I am dead. So reads the English-sandstone tablet set by Ian Hamilton Finlay and his assistant, Nicholas Sloan, high on a large and sturdy poplar. We are in a small cemetery in the parkland beyond the fort. The tablet quotes a work by a local poet from the last century, a certain Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. She is not buried here; some of her relatives are, however.

Finlay’s stone marker above our heads is a delicate memento, a homage not so much to Droste-Hülshoff as to faith in poetry. But the tablet is also a minimal sign in the environment, almost too high and too modest to be noticed, or, being noticed, to stop us as we walk. Will the tree grow taller and carry it farther skyward? This unobtrusive object gives a city common an uncommon meaning, tinting it with suggestions and memories. The green of the leaves and the meadow, the sparse, scattered tombstones, the noises of traffic from the nearby street and, nearer but more tenuous, of rustling foliage and birdsong, the passing and pausing of people among the trees, the very presence of the mindful visitor– through Finlay’s stone all this becomes a landscape, a landscape of the soul.

MULLICAN Matt. Cosmology, 1987, sandblasted granite, 34' 1/2'' x 24' 4/12''. ????
It is hard to get to Matt Mullican’s piece, a granite floor set in a grassy courtyard among the large, anonymous buildings of the university’s outlying science department. The trip there is worthwhile, however. Mullican’s piece is perhaps his strongest and grandest statement to date. A code of symbols is sandblasted into the granite, which strikes you as one of those things, like the pyramids and their hieroglyphs, that will remain when all around it has vanished. The work, indeed, offers signs of both life and death. It is at once humanistic and technocratic in import; images of both nature and machines are here, and colloquial signs of our civilization such as a martini glass and a coffee cup. The way it sits on the ground makes me think that Mullican means the piece to be seen from the sky—by beings from another planet, maybe, who could use it as a record of us after we are gone, the kind of symbolic message we sent out into space years ago, “explaining” the kind of creature we are.

GERDES Ludger. Schiff für Münster (Ship for Münster), 1987, mixed media, installation view. ????
On the western edge of Münster, in the indefinite area between city and farmland, Ludger Gerdes has cut a metaphorical picture, a grass-topped island, out of the earth through the digging of a broad moat. In a pun on the architectural tradition of moated castles in this region of Germany, the island’s flanks are sheathed in masonry; its form is that of a ship. It seems to be steering toward the three spires of the city’s main churches, but it is barred from them by the intervening span of an autobahn. For a captain’s bridge, the ship has at its stem an airy, templelike structure, the form referring to classical architecture but schematic and neutral. Like this wooden Ur-hut, half agora, half human shelter, the two poplars aligned forward of it also have various connotations. The poplar is a common tree in the Munster landscape. Does this anthropomorphic couple guard the temple, like Philomen and Baucis? Or are they masts and sails, the traditional witnesses of the sea voyage, that ancient metaphor for human life and enterprise, hope and failure?

Gerdes deals with art as social communication, with the role that art can play in public space and in public life. For him, art must relate constructively to the everyday world. His staged environments bring together elite and popular, new and old, in the kind of double coding of which the architect Charles Jencks writes in his book What is Post-Modernism?. Gerdes’ images compose a synthetic language through which he can translate relationships between architectural and sculptural values, natural and artificial phenomena, into kaleidoscopic metaphors in the viewer’s imagination.

ANDRE Carl. Gras und Stahl, 4 Juni 87 (Grass and steel, June 4 ’87), 1987, 207 steel plates, each ca. 39 x 39 x 3/16''. ????
On the edge of the city, which lies behind us like a distant echo, Carl Andre has found “a neglected place,” a large tumulus, a by-product from the construction of apartment buildings nearby. He has covered the tumulus with a couple of hundred square steel sheets, scattered as if thrown from above. The grass grows up in the interstices between them; the piece looks like a small mountain of steel embroidered with green grass. From the top, we feel the earth as the body of the great mother, her belly swollen, as in Caravaggio’s Death of the Virgin.

JUDD Donald. Untitled, 1987, cement, ca. 48' 9'' diam. ????
Donald Judd’s untitled cement sculpture on the farther banks of the lake called the Aasee, in southwestern Münster. is included in “Skulptur Projekte,” though it is actually a permanent work remaining on site from the “Skulptur 77” show a decade ago. (Judd planned a contribution to the current exhibition, but it has not been built.) Many of the artists included in Münster’s 1987 exercise in the esthetic use of public space show a concern with art’s social dimension and effects, whether ethical, political, or spiritual. Judging from this ten-year-old piece, however, Judd seems to feel that social utopias have proven themselves unrealizable. His two large concentric rings, obliquely angled, on the shore of the Aasee do seem in some way a response to this artificial lake, a comment on its place in the landscape, but more immediately they are an austere, solipsistic manifestation of basic sculptural possibilities and spatial relationships. They tolerate no illusion—their effects are entirely to do with the viewer’s experience of what is actually there.

Despite all this, the sculpture does come roundabout to a sense of a utopian ideal. What Judd idealizes is the human capability for basic sensory and intellectual perception, the human desire for beauty. In that he hopes to liberate these qualities in the viewers of his work, he touches, like some of the more socially oriented artists here, on the difference between the reality of the work of art and the reality of society.

RÜCKREIM Ulrich. Finnischer Granit gespalten (Split Finnish granite), 1987, three blocks of granite, (Not shown). ????
Ulrich Rückriem’s new sculpture in the park at the western end of the Aasee comprises three vertical blocks of granite spaced through the trees, each of them split into component parts and then reassembled, the fractures left clearly visible. The placement of the stones relates to the lake and to paths and groups of trees in the park, but their esthetic effect lies primarily in their material, form, and size, and in the work’s interchange between whole and part, both within each block and within the entire installation. Like Donald Judd’s, though through more traditional choices of material and handling, Rückriem’s piece explores the basic possibilities of sculpture. Its singularity rests in the tension between the rough innate beauty of the stone and the conceptual structure that the artist has set or found in it.

HARING Keith. Red Dog for Landois, 1987, steel, ca. 31' x 40' 4 3/4'' x 34' 8''. ????
Keith Haring’s Red Dog for Landois barks joyously in the park north of the Aasee where last century Professor Hermann Landois had his zoo. Standing near the old owl house, with its friendly stone owl outside, Haring’s cutout steel dog humorously shows its wisdom and energy. It sharply punctuates the environment at the same time that it works with it harmoniously. It is a red-hot performer in the green paradise of the park—an altogether witty, personable character. The professor could have had a good conversation with the dog, who would have talked back, intelligently.

MERZ Mario. Die optische Ebene (The optical level), 1987, steel and 21 glasses, ca. 20' 9 9/16'' x 54 9/16'' x 19 1/2''. ????
What has replaced some of the old zoo is an impressively inhuman bank headquarters. But parts of the zoo remain, like the forlorn eagle aviary, complete with simulated concrete butte. Mario Merz’s proposal for a “deserted cosmic landscape” here, originally an elaborate project, has been simplified into a single gesture that suffices: an upended triangular table wedged against the “rocks,” its length inscribed by a vertical row of 21 water tumblers. As it rains, one glass spills over into the next, forming a modest waterfall–an ambivalent tribute to the superimposition of human rhythms over natural ones.

PAIK Nam Jun. TV-Buddha für Enten (V-Buddha for ducks), 1987, bronze and Bakelite, installation view. ????
Near the spot where the river Aa opens into the lake, it is crossed by a road once known as the “philosopher’s way.” Here, with poetic irony, Nam June Paik’s TV-watching Buddha transforms a basin in the river into a meditative idyll.

OLDENBURG Claes. Giant Pool Balls, 1977, painted cement, each ca. 136 1/2" diam. ????
Claes Oldenburg’s Giant Pool Balls, 1977, is a permanent work installed a decade ago but considered part of the current show, and painted for the occasion. Three large concrete balls lie in the meadow on the eastern shore of the Aasee, as if the entire landscape were a pool table for giants.

HOUSHIARY Shirazeh. Temple of Dawn, 1987, mud, straw, wicker, and wood, ca. 19' 6'' x 78'' x 31 1/16''. ????
In The ancient masonry tower called the Ka’aba-i-Zardusht, near Persepolis in Naqsh-i-Rustam; the enveloping mass of the Taq-i-Kisra palace in Ctesiphon, near Baghdad–these were the references, not so much formal as intimately suggested, that came to me before Shirazeh Houshiary’s tower, Temple of Dawn. Yet its material is not the stone of the “eternal” monument, but the mud, wicker, wood, and straw of peasant architecture of every time and every place. Set on one of the old ramparts of the city, near a main intersection from which roads lead out in “all directions”—north to the center of Munster and south to its borders, west to the lake, east to the long series of parks that circle much of the old city—the work is a watchtower, convex toward the south, concave toward the town, simultaneously phallic and enveloping. At ground level is a small ziggurat-shaped opening, and oblique holes puncture the surface higher up, allowing passage to the rays of the sun and of the pale moon. The weather and time will shape the piece, as the ancient Near Eastern temples and palaces have been shaped by centuries of history, and as the sand castles of our eternal seaside childhood are worn away by the sea.

WEST Franz. Eo Ipso, 1987, iron, installation view. ????
As we gradually move east through the southern suburbs, we find, at the intersection of Breite Gasse (Broad lane) and Krumme Strasse (Crooked street), Franz West’s broad crooked bench, fresh in the pleasant residential context. There’s also a single chair, wittily set between a garbage can and a “no entry” street sign. The bench holds only two people, at either end–a kind of weird love seat. Is the chair opposite for their chaperone? The chair gives the lie to the neighborly, cozy look of the bench, suggesting that it is less personal than it appears. It’s an uncozy bench, although the second time I saw it there were bright, “ugly” cushions on the seats. It wasn’t clear whether the artist intended them to be there or if they were a contribution from one of the residents; in any case, they did nothing to change the wobbly bench’s seasick green, which undermines the urban-paradise look of the place.

SCHUTTE Thomas. Kirschensäule (Column of cherries), 1987, sandstone and aluminum, ca. 19' 6" high. ????
Thomas Schütte is a bricoleur who produces things that are images and images that are things, who cancels the oppositional polarities between image and thing to create a hybrid between them. That hybrid travels with a baggage of stylistic and historical memories, both individual and collective, and with its own sense of materiality. It unites a public language with the lyricism of the individual soul.

Under a tall overhanging chestnut tree, in what was once a small square and is now a parking lot, stands Schütte’s Kirschensäule (Column of cherries), like a pawn on the irregular chessboard of the city. It has an innate mobility: it could be elsewhere, but is not, since it is here. The monumental base, solid like a pillar, rounded like a column, is made from the same sandstone as many of Münster’s churches and public sculptures. The stone is opaque, compact. fine grained, nonfriable. At the top sits a pair of red cherries, in the enameled metal of the cars crowded below. The Kirschensäule has the robustness that public sculpture needs in order to confront the difficulties implicit in its very presence. (In the mirror in my bathroom I always see myself as handsome; the problems start when I catch sight of myself in a mirror in public.)

ZAUGG Remy. Untitled, 1987, installation view. ????
Flanking the entrance to one of the main roads into Münster from the south once stood a pair of sculptures, Magd mit Ochse and Bauer mit Pferd (Maid with ox, Farmer with horse, 1912), by Karl Bemewitz. In 1956 the site fell victim to the traffic monster, and the sculptures were removed. Remy Zaugg’s contribution to “Skulptur Projekte in Münster” was to restore these works to their original position, as far as that could be ascertained. There proved, in fact, to be disagreement on the subject, with the contradictions among varying recollections reinforced by the fact that the works had actually had more than one site.

The debate sparked a probing discussion of the identity of the town and of its people. Münster was heavily bombed during World War II; much of the city is reconstructed or new. And the image of the town that many of the residents carry in their heads seems to be equally reconstructed, fictional. Zaugg’s piece gets at the heart of the issue of public art. Ironically, this subversive work takes the form of the most traditional sculptural group imaginable.

FISCHLI/WEISS Haus (House), 1987, wood and Plexiglas, ca. 11' 4 1/2'' x 18' 6 1/4'' x 13' 4''. ????
It is similar to everything around it: the anonymous, rationalist architecture of Münster’s postwar reconstruction, the gray and blue of the Westphalian sky. But though it lies among solid offices and shops near the station, this building has the dimensions of a kiosk–the sill that marks off the ground floor from those above is lower than elbow height. That the antecedents for this leap into reduction are Swift’s Gulliver and Voltaire’s Micromégas, kitsch and model-making, conveys the layers of the impassioned work of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. To the quality of spectacle in this fiction is matched the loving detail, the sensuality, that has gone into its construction; to its imagination and vision, its concreteness as an object; to its ironic ugliness, the pleasure that must have gone into devising it, and that continues to go into perceiving it.

I imagine some passerby, less hurried than the rest, stopping to visit it. He or she circles it, lingering on its details: the side door next to the elevator tower; the loading platform at the back. The visitor imagines showing the piece to others, or actually brings them along, saying “Let me show you the back,” or “Go around the comer,” or “I told you you’d like the stairs,” or “Look at the rainwater stain on this wall.” Now and then they all laugh together; then they leave. The building remains with the others on the street near the station, gray and blue like the Westphalian sky.

BURTON Scott. Pair of Park Benches, 1987, wood, each ca. 39 3/4'' x 28' 6 3/8'' x 19 7/8''. ????
In one of the sleepiest parts of the narrow extended group of parks, with their accompanying promenade, that run in a rough semicircle to the east of old Münster where once stood the city walls, Scott Burton has set what is probably one of his best works of the past few years. Two long white arcs accent the perimeters of a lawn. Set into their centers are shorter seats—smaller segments of the circle, neatly fitted into the graceful outer paling. These seats have no far ends to occupy: one sits either absolutely alone or quite close to someone else. The tame ducks that appear to make their home in the park seem convinced that the piece will provide them with an abundance of visitors from whom to scavenge food–a boon they have long stopped expecting from the nearby piece by George Rickey.

LECCIA Ange. Tore (Goals), 1987, two soccer goals of steel and plastic, installation view. ????
Farther north in the park is the second of Ange Leccia’s “arrangements,” a pair of opposing soccer goals. Set near a melodramatic monument addressing the division of Germany, the goals become, as Leccia remarks in the exhibition guide, an emblematic “space for reunification.”

CHILLIDA Eduardo. Tolérance I (Tolerance I), 1985, steel, ca. 36 5/8 x 103 x 85 3/4''; Hommage a Luca Paccioli, 1986, steel, ca. 27 1/4 x 19' 6'' x 66 1/4". ????
Elementalism found wanting: in a hotbed of intervention and confrontation, Eduardo Chillida’s Modernist abstractions (not executed on site) nestle amongst the foliage in the green near the Servatiikirche, contentedly being themselves. When the best adjective that the dryly prosaic guidebook can find for an artist is “great,” you know there’s a letdown in the works.

SERRA Richard. Trunk, J. Conrad Schlaun Recomposed, 1987, Cor-Ten steel, ca. 19' 2'' x 13' 9 3/4'' x 78". ????
Richard Serra’s piece, Trunk, J. Conrad Schlaun Recomposed, seems more lyrical—or is it just less grim?—than anything he has made in the United States. The sculpture stands in the courtyard of Schlaun’s Baroque Erbdrostenhof palace. It is an inspired response to the site: to the curves and proportions of the palace facade, the triangle of its courtyard. Elsewhere, Serra’s steel has sometimes set out to undermine architecture, to get stuck in its throat like a bone. It has sometimes been threatening and inhumane. In this context it positively purrs.

BALKENHOL Stephan. Mann mit grunem Hemd and weisser Hose (Man with green shirt and white pants), 1987, cement, ca. 78 x 7 3/4 x 15 9/16''. ????
Curiously, a figure like a cement version of a John Abeam hangs over the Salzstrasse. Like the mantelpiece on which he stands, Stephan Balkenhol’s young man seems to have been left behind after a house demolition.

FRITSCH Katharina. Madonna, 1987, varnished polyester, ca. 66 1/4 x 15 9/16 x 13 1/4''. ????
Catholicism doesn’t like copies of itself. “Come quick–the Virgin has appeared near the Dominikanerkirche, off the Salzstrasse.” Too late: she is stolen away. Next day, she reappears to policemen, and is restored to her place. But Our Lady of Lourdes, cast in varnished polyester by Katharina Fritsch, does not survive her second night in the open. Despondent women of the parish offer baskets of flowers as eager art-lovers crowd around a dust trace on the cobblestones. Mary’s final appearance (always in threes): face down in the press office, her lemon-yellow pristineness ruptured by hammer blows to the chest from a viewer who must have disapproved.

PENCK A.R. Frau mit ausgebreiteten Armen (Woman with out-stretched arms), 1987, bronze, ca. 15 3/16 x 14 3/4 x 2 11/16''. ????
A. R. Penck’s contribution to the show combines a pragmatic gesture with a social charge. His small bronze sculpture, a female figure with its arms spread wide, is set in the office of the lord mayor of Münster, on his desk. It seems to call out to him—and through him, to the public.

KIECOL Hubert. Hohe Treppe (High stairs), 1987, cement, ca. 36' 4 3/4'' x 15 9/16'' x 19 1/2''. ????
At the edge of a large parking lot east of the Domplatz stands Hubert Kiecol’s slender forty-odd-foot-high cement column. Not only does its verticality provide a contrapuntal accent to the flat site, the piece humorously and modestly points heavenward with the inaccessible staircase at its top.

*SPALLETTI Ettore. Fonte (Fountain), 1986–87, white marble, ca. 46 3/4'' high. ????
At a curve of the Hörsterstrasse, which leads northeast, back toward the encircling parks and promenade, the road brushes a small courtyard dominated by the rosy wall of an 18th-century house. Between the house and the striped awning of a sidewalk cafe stands Ettore Spalletti’s small fountain of white Russian marble, which gleams in the sun. The fountain is flared slightly outward as it rises, which accentuates its vertical thrust. As one approaches, one finds that the crenellations at its upper edges are in fact a ring of schematic house forms–the top is a courtyard surrounded by houses, with at its center a spill of moving water, a water sculpture. The shallow mirror surface of the water is rippled, transparent. At the side of the fountain toward the road, Spallet-tis tiny cloister opens up as if to allow entry. One has only to lean down to quench one’s thirst at its stream. It is a small fountain of white Russian marble, which gleams. . . .

PENONE Giuseppe. Pozzo di Münster (Münster well), 1987, bronze, installation view. ????
Another former cemetery, this one out to the east beyond the promenade. Art has a relationship with death: the signs that art produces are attempts to establish cores of meaning within the cycle of life and death, a cycle implicit not only in the passage of the single individual, even of the single culture, but in that broader phenomenal spectrum that we call the world. Giuseppe Penone’s piece is an expression of this primary fact, and a symbolic individuation of the energy of the cycle.

A large broken branch, cast in bronze, lies in an open space. It looks like a root emerging from the earth. Near its base, the impression of a head and forearm marks it, almost clings to it. Water appears in the hollows of the fingers, as if from a spring within the tree, or in the earth into which it sinks; the water trickles along the entire cavity of the impression before running off and falling into a well dug in the ground below. The circuit is exemplary and complete: across time and the culture of time, we join our origins once more. Everything that surrounds the work—the screen of trees and bushes, the earth we walk upon, the buried dead and their monuments—converges in this ancient sign. The water sinks but is not lost.

PITZ Hermann. Uhr I’m Treppenhaus (Clock in stairwell), 1987, parabolic mirror and clock, ca. 62 3/8'' diam. ????
The first reaction is uncertainty. Hermann Pitz has set a wide parabolic mirror, with clock attached, in the basement of the building in the Hörsterplatz that houses the state’s department of roads. One trudges up seven flights of the elliptical spiral staircase above and leans out over a low rail into yawning space, and it happens. A close-up from Hitchcock: the distorted clock face, the quavering steps (the tumbling murder weapon?). Cautiously, one straightens one’s back, only to catch a perfect view through the window. It is the giant clock on the front wall of the state prison.

METZEL Olaf. Taufkapelle St. Erpho (Baptismal chapel St. Erpho), 1987, installation view. ????
Responsive to yet dramatically at odds with its site, Olaf Metzel’s work seems to profane a holy place. In a seemingly destructive, transgressive act, Metzel has cut the plaster skin in the baptismal chapel of the church of Saint Erpho, in an outlying northeastern district, to and through its raw brick bone. The harsh wounds he has inflicted on the walls can he interpreted as a reference to Christianity’s history of martyrdom as well as of cruelty. His intimidating incisions, demarcating provisional-looking abstract shapes, including a cross, make of the elegant devotional space a kind of primitive catacomb, suggesting a return to an early, fundamentalist Christianity. With equally precise ambiguity they remind us, in a place associated with birth, of death’s erosion. Metzel’s token damage also symbolizes the heavy damage inflicted on Münster in World War II. The city has only relatively recently had the luxury of covering its wounds with smooth plaster.

HORN Rebecca. Das gegenläufige Konzert (The contrary-turning concert), 1987, mixed media, installation view. ????
The Zwinger, at the northeast corner of the promenade, is a circular medieval stone fortress with an 18th-century interior. The place was a prison, a dungeon, for centuries, right up to the end of World War II, in fact, when captured Poles and Russians were tortured and executed there. It is a place of horror–a place, perhaps to be shunned, out of respect for those who suffered in it. Rebecca Horn has broken that taboo. Her piece in the Zwinger shows no disrespect for the dead, however—rather, it evokes compassion. And its main impact is to break through the repression of the dark past. Forty of the slender steel hammers that Horn has used elsewhere in her work are set throughout the fortress, installed against walls, door jambs, a variety of surfaces. They are powered by small motors, so that they strike regularly at their supports. And the sound they create makes the silence of the dark Zwinger almost physical, and fills it with meaning.

Horn’s piece includes a number of other elements–two snakes; candles; a pair of basins, one suspended at a height and dripping rainwater into the one below; two javelins balancing an egg. She might have resisted these, for the hammers alone create an intensity that is only weakened with each addition to them.

DEACON Richard. Like a Snail A, 1987, plywood, galvanized steel, and steel, ca. 18' 2 3/8'' x 22' 1 3/16'' x 16' 10 3/4''. ????
On the roof of a parking garage—so badly drained as to be covered with rainwater when I was there—and in an abandoned building lot to the north of the town center stand two sculptures by Richard Deacon, suggesting that art can flourish in the most unlikely places. As one might expect in such inhospitable sites, Deacon’s rooftop creature and his mushroomlike growth on the ground are absolutely eccentric and fantastic. At the same time that they have an industrial look, they are pseudoorganic. In this they resemble Münster itself. They are at once a compassionate and a devastating commentary on the city.

KOONS Jeff. Kiepenkerl (Tenant farmer with basket), 1987, solid stainless steel, ca. 68 1/4 x 95 1/2 x 17 1/2''. ????
The Allied bombs fell and the Kiepenkerl statue remained standing amid the destruction in its square just north of the Domplatz, almost as if it actually had the obstinate will to permanence that it came to symbolize. Then it was destroyed by a tank. The sense of loss seems to have been deep, for after the war, with much of Münster still ruined, the town erected a new Kiepenkerl. Now Jeff Koons, who seems not to believe in permanence, has replaced this second bronze with an exact copy in stainless steel, “the material of the masses,” harshly sparkling and glittering. For me, the steel recalls Walter De Maria’s Beds of Spikes from 1968–69.

What the Kiepenkerl shows is a tenant farmer carrying produce to market in a wicker basket on his back. It is a popular monument, and its associations of the local life of earlier times contribute to Monsters sense of identity. In taking it on, Koons addresses two conceptions of art: art as subversion, and art as an object familiar to a wide public. For the artist, having found the location he wants within the social space (the square in which the Kiepenkerl stands is probably the busiest commercial area in the old city center), the statue seems to be an instrument with which to measure the nucleus of meanings in the context in which it is placed. For the public, which is at home in, even part of, that context, the “renewal” of the statue renews the opportunity it provides to mediate feelings and desires through art rather than through the ephemeral, more or less anonymous, more or less uniform and serial object of consumption. If the public sees art as fixed, rigid, and ideal, the steel Kiepenkerl may seem to confirm that view, but it also allows them to feel that they have collectively contributed to its ideal status.

GRAHAM Rodney. Die Gattung Cyclamen L. (The species Cyclamen L.), 1987, installation view at Regenbergsche bookstore. ????
Appearing like a keynote in a number of bookshop windows in different parts of the town–just east of the Domplatz, behind the Lambertikirche, for example–we come across what seems to be a reprint of Friedrich Hildebrand’s monograph Die Gattung Cyclamen L. (The species Cyclamen L., 1898), a standard volume of botanical reference. In fact, this is the work of the Canadian artist Rodney Graham. Its cover is an exact facsimile of Hildebrand’s original, but inside are only blank pages. The book, in other words, has become an object, a symbol of its content rather than an actual container for them, and the starting point for an autonomous chain of associations.

This subtle work goes a step farther still, for it refers to Freud, who included a dream triggered by the cover of Die Gattung Cyclamen L. in his Interpretation of Dreams. Not only does Graham’s dummy volume set the associative process in motion, then, it also makes it its theme. This external object, this book of blank pages, points toward the depths of the mind. At the same time, it casually and un-selfconsciously blends with its environment–this is an art that wants to retreat under the hood of the everyday, to withdraw, if not into invisibility, at least into a discreet reserve.

STRUTH Thomas. Untitled, 1987, one of five slide projections, installation view. ????
At night, in five locations scattered at the eastern edge of the Domplatz and in the neighborhood behind it, Thomas Struth projects images of suburban buildings onto the walls of the inner city, pointing up differences within Münster as a whole and playing with our sense of place.

BAUMGARTEN Lothar. Drei Irrlichter (Three will-o-‘the-wisps), 1987, installation view. ????
The intersection by the Lambertikirche is right at the center of town, and by day the streets there are as crowded as anywhere in Münster. But if you were to find yourself passing through it at night, it would be quiet and relatively empty. And if, perhaps by chance, you were to turn your glance upward toward the sky, you would see shining dimly against the church’s spire, the highest in the city, three lights, the faint quivering flames of three lamps. Looking more carefully, you would see that the lamps were hung in cages in the tracery of the tower. Then a passerby might tell you that over three centuries ago the corpses of those who had rebelled against the political and religious order of the day, and who in rebellion had been as violent as those they opposed, were locked in these cages, hoisted up on high, and left there to decay and be eaten by the birds, as a warning.

Setting these lamps in these cages, Lothar Baumgarten opposes a pause, a suspension of judgment, to history’s vicious cycle of crime and punishment. What matters is the light, and the heat of the light, which gently emanates outward its passion. When dawn breaks the lights are extinguished; the bustle of day ignores them, forgotten at their vertiginous height. But when night returns to those cages set on the church spire, the spire devoted to God, the triple tongues of flame are rekindled for men sacrificed by men.

Donald Kuspit, ???? Max Wechsler, ???? Pier Luigi Tazzi ???? and Ingrid Rein ???? review art regularly for Artforum. Dan Cameron ???? is a writer and musician who lives in New York.

The photographs are by Shigeo Anzai. ????

Max Wechsler’s reviews were translated from the German by Leslie Strickland; Pier Luigi Tazzi’s from the Italian by Meg Shore; Ingrid Reins from the German by Charles V. Miller.