Artwork of the month March

Thomas Lehnerer, Gelbe Wachsfigur, o.T., 1991

Thomas Lehnerer

* 1955 in Munich, † 1995 in Munich, Germany

Gelbe Wachsfigur, o.T., 1991

Yellow wax
64.5 x 12 x 7.5 cm
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz


Very straight, head tilted slightly upwards, Thomas Lehnerer's Gelbe Wachsfigur, o.T. (Yellow Wax Figure, untitled) stands atop the museum plinth. Formed of honey-coloured wax, the face is the most clearly articulated feature. Deep round hollows cause the eyes to appear alert and alive. A gentle smile is inscribed beneath the nose. The body remains devoid of all gesture. Arms and hands are down by the sides. Instead of feet, we see a piece of wood inside the figure upon which Lehnerer applied the wax. Traces of this process are clearly apparent. Sculpting material added bit by bit and left unsmoothed remains visible, as do impressions of the artist's fingers. Revealing the fact of its making, the sculpture depicts an upright human being who beholds the world full of cheer and candour.

Small-format figures play a central role in Lehnerer's oeuvre, placed on plinths or in showcases, alone or in groups. Size does not matter to him but rather closeness and immediacy in the other. The form of the human being, looking and thinking, appears elementary. Material and idea play together and give rise to something lively. As viewers, our vision allows us to discover and continue this liveliness.

Thomas Lehnerer studied art, theology, philosophy, art history and education. In 1984 he published his PhD and in 1992 his habilitation thesis, his own theory of art entitled "Methode der Kunst" (Method of Art). Making was equally important to him as writing and thinking. To Lehnerer, artistic work was always a new experiment based upon theory, ability to play and freedom. This approach can also be described as research and may be broadened to encompass all spheres of life. Together with an electrical engineer, a physicist and a sociologist, he worked on the project of a machine capable of developing self-awareness. He founded the "Weltgesellschaft für Glück" (World Society for Happiness) with Michael Feistle in 1987. Its aim of enabling all people, all creatures, to be happy all the time is an ultimate utopia. Although Lehnerer was aware of this, he was staunch in reflecting on and discussing this goal and in lending expression to happiness.

Susanne Kudorfer


"Being happy is a cheerful motion of all thoughts and impressions that arises in the calm of seeing."

Thomas Lehnerer

<b>Thomas Lehnerer, Gelbe Wachsfigur, o.T., 1991</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.