Stamm. 1998. Sculpture. Nails, paint and canvas on tree stump. Signed and dated. Height: ca. 108 cm (42.5 in). Please find more images and a video of this work on our homepage. • Impresive work of highly topical poignancy. • Creative act performed on a bandaged stump • Highlight and final piece in the work group of the 'healing' canvasses. • White dyed canvasses with a mystical effect as a symbol of relief. • Capital sculpture by Uecker; executed with great manual mastery. This work is registered at the Uecker Archive with the number GU.98.007 and has been earmarked for inclusion into the forthcoming Uecker catalog raisonné.
"Art can't save man, but the means of art make a dialog that calls man to protective measures possible." Günther Uecker, 1983, quote after: Kritisches Lexikon der Gegenwartskunst, p. 2.
In the light of all public interest that Günther Uecker’s nail art receives, both the rich diversity and the core message of his artistic creation that shows his closeness to nature have been increasingly overlooked. This intention is best expressed in Uecker’s nail-covered tree trunks. Since the 1970s he has addressed the problem of the destruction of nature through man. Works like "Kunstpranger" (Art Pillory) from 1984 for which the artist spiked an elm tree with 300 pounds of nails, are open forms of protest against forest decline. This work was followed by multi-part nail forests that Uecker began to make the year of his journey through Russia in 1984. It can be assumed that they even gained in relevance for the artist after the experience of the Chernobyl disaster. This sculpture offered here, a tree trunk covered with ashes and glue and crowned with long carpenter nails, is also part of this work complex. With all its impressive massiveness, the sculpture rears up in front of the observer like a defense tower. Our tree is part of a nail forest which seems to serve as a protective barrier against the threats that come from man. Günther Uecker is known for his love of nature, he grew up in the country on the Baltic peninsula of Wustrow. He has always remembered his roots and has remained true to his home up until today, as it is his source of energy and power place for spiritual and physical revitalization. This explains why the protection of nature is one of Uecker’s heart matters and why he uses his art to shake up people to join him in his battle against its destruction. Even though this theme is also inherent in Uecker’s later nail pictures and the "Verletzungen" (Injuries), it has the most immediate effect in the nail trees as they are liberated from any formal-aesthetic traditions. This also explains why a seven-part forest from 1988 was the most prominent part of the comprehensive exhibition "Günther Uecker. Zwanzig Kapitel" at Martin-Gropius-Bau in 2005 and at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. [JS]