Artwork of the month October

Ferdinand Nigg, Hunt I, undated

Ferdinand Nigg

* 1865 in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, † 1949 in Vaduz

Hunt I, undated

Wool embroidery on canvas
89 × 84.5cm

With its monochrome, off-white and only partial covering of embroidery, that allows the slightly darker ground, the canvas, along with the preparatory drawing to shimmer through, Hunt I is an impressive example of the intermeshing combination of figuration and abstraction in Ferdinand Nigg's embroidery work. Building on cross-stitch as a basic minimalist structure, Hunt I, as Rüdiger Joppien puts it, exhibits "a powerful link and intersection of rectangular, square and triangular areas and partial areas". The use of cross-stitch in these nested area elements is particularly masterful: half and whole cross-stitches join together to form multiform, sometimes shimmering patterns. In this abstract ornamental structure we can discern five dogs running and jumping, circling a deer. In the middle of the bottom half we see the long-legged deer, the dogs moving in different directions at its sides and above. Even though the monogram FN at bottom left defines the orientation of the almost square tapestry, it is striking that the composition is oriented to all sides. The possibility of viewing the piece from different sides testifies to Nigg's profound knowledge of the tradition of the report and ornament, with the cross and square, for example, embodying the four points of the compass. The multiple perspectives and the alternation between abstraction and figuration as a mutually contingent pair of opposites emphasise the aspect of motion inherent in the overall composition. This almost rotational movement defines an eternal circle – a kind of continuum.

Nigg was a painter, graphic artist, textile designer, book designer and typographer. Alongside teaching at the schools of applied arts and crafts in Magdeburg and later Cologne, Nigg also created an extensive oeuvre of drawings and embroidery, mostly undated and out of the public eye. After retiring in 1931, Ferdinand Nigg returned to Liechtenstein, where he created his late work until his death in 1949.

Christiane Meyer-Stoll

<b>Ferdinand Nigg, Hunt I, undated</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.