Joachim Schmettau at 85
Paper work and sculpture

14 January – 26 February 2022
Opening: 13 January, 6-21 p.m.

FFP2 masks are mandatory for visiting the exhibition.

To mark the occasion of his 85th birthday, Galerie Poll is proud to present an exhibition of paper work and sculpture by the draughtsman and sculptor Joachim Schmettau. Featuring work spanning different periods of his creative output, his “Selbstporträt mit Zipfelmütze” (Self-portrait with stocking hat, 1978) ­­– ­a painted plaster head smoking a cigarette ­– ensures the artist, who has lived in Berlin since 1945, is present as an attentive and alert observer in his own exhibition.    

“Joachim Schmettau’s sculptural oeuvre has not been created according to stylistic maxims; it is an extensive artistic recognition of a prevailing psychological state, a search for knowledge, a self-critical consciousness, a spiritual awareness. He himself, the doubting, dauntless individual, is the ‘focus’ of all his sculptures.” (Ulrich Gertz)

Schmettau’s sculptural work is characterised by austere compositions reduced to almost archaic forms. He likes to adorn plaster works or bronzes with contemporary accessories such as glasses, headphones or watches and paint them. To this day, Schmettau’s oeuvre continues to grow on an almost daily basis: he still produces fanciful sketches and designs for sculptural works as well as stand-alone drawings and collages. These collages are based on catalogue depictions of his work which he then cuts outs and, using the draughtsman’s pencil, transports into new artistic realms.

Joachim Schmettau became known beyond Berlin for his “Erdkugelbrunnen” (Globe fountain) on Breitscheidplatz in Berlin-Charlottenburg, inaugurated in 1983. A few years later he realised further water features in central squares in other German cities: the “Musikbrunnen” (Music fountain, 1986) in Grabenstraße, Düsseldorf, and the “Europabrunnen” (Europe fountain, 1989) in Dortmund. Schmettau also created numerous sculptures for public spaces in the 1970s and 1980s, such as the bridge sculptures at the university library in Freiburg (1978) and the “Tanzendes Paar” (Dancing couple, 1985) on Hermannplatz in Berlin-Neukölln. His studio is still home to many models for as yet unrealised projects in the public realm. In an interview he once said, “My aim is to re-establish the connection between architecture and sculpture.”

Joachim Schmettau was born on 5 February 1937 in Bad Doberan and has lived in Berlin since 1945. From 1956 to 1960 he studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin and became a Meisterschüler of Ludwig Gabriel Schrieber in 1961. In 1972, Schmettau became a founder member of the Aspekt group. From 1971 to his retirement in 2002 he taught as a professor for sculpture at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. He has received numerous awards and accolades for his work, including 1st prize for sculpture from the Karl Hofer Gesellschaft, Berlin (1966), the Villa Romana Prize, Florence (1969), the Villa Massimo Prize, Rome (1970/71), the Berlin Art Prize (1977), the Premio Fiorino, Florence (1978) and the Düsseldorfer Kunstpreis (1980). Joachim Schmettau’s work can be found in many private and public collections, including the Berlinische Galerie, the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, the Kunststiftung Poll, Berlin, the municipal art collections of Bochum and Bonn, the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, the Osthaus Museum in Hagen and the Bavarian State Painting Collections in Munich.