Christiane Löhr

The first thing one noticed in Christiane Löhr’s recent show was the barely tangible presence—it could almost be described as an absence—of a sculpture made entirely of horsehair. Skillfully tied together and attached to both ceiling and floor, extremely fine black threads delineated the outlines of a volume, which the eye, only after considerable effort, gradually perceived as a set of three intersecting cones. Occupying the entire front room of the gallery, the structure animated the space with its impalpability, instilling in the viewer the fear either of not seeing the work clearly or of accidentally destroying it with a misstep. In other parts of the gallery, more interweavings of horsehair, mounted to the wall on small nails, seemed equally defenseless. Löhr’s work often emanates this air of fragility. Even the small sculptures exhibited on tall wooden bases seemed similarly at the mercy of events.

Löhr’s sculptures are constructed entirely from organic materials, whether they are assemblages of ivy seeds, berries, dandelions, or some other natural element whose forms can easily be interlocked. For example, spiky clusters of ivy seeds become building blocks in Piccola torre (Small tower), 1999. Löhr’s form-follows-form method of construction results in elegant, complex geometric structures, which, depending on the original shape of the small “building blocks,” take on conical or trapezoidal shapes. It’s as if the artist has only to visualize the autonomous formal properties that pertain to a particular substance in order to create her work. Löhr collects her materials during frequent rambles, on foot or on horseback, through a wide range of natural environments. At times her chosen materials are so delicate that particular works have to be presented inside glass boxes, as in the case of a series of dried dandelion heads that lie on their sides atop a rectangular base.

In general, Löhr’s work seems to be generated from an ars combinatoria, based on mathematical calculations. Each work has its own self-evident modular logic and seems able to proliferate infinitely, like modules of Minimalist sculpture. But while those modules were abstracted from phenomenological data to achieve a pure a priori state, Löhr takes the very concept of modules back to its phenomenological origins, perhaps suggesting its roots in processes of natural growth.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.