Winni Brueggemann, German (1930 - )
“Winni Brueggemann’s creations embody the grand span of human technology, from
the prehistoric age of bronze to the beryllium alloys produced by contemporary industry."
Thus wrote critic Tullio Francesco DeSantis on the occasion of the opening of one of the East coast’s most elegant and influential regional galleries.
Born in Germany, Brueggemann earned degrees in mechanical applied physics and orthopedics at the University of Munster. Soon after his arrival in the United States in 1958, his development as an artist began with metal fabrications characterized by a primitive, functional honesty. These early works of the 60’s--freely conceived household items such as candlesticks, mugs, vases, ashtrays and even furniture--exhibit strong folk art motifs rooted in a middle-European idiom.
A turning point in Brueggemann’s career was reached in the 1970’s when an interest in bronze sculpture was encouraged by his friend and mentor, Klaus Ilenfeld. It was through Ilenfeld that Brueggemann met HARRY BERTOIA, beginning an association that was to last until the famous sculptor’s death in 1978. Clearly influenced by Bertoian modalities, particularly “sounding sculpture,” Brueggemann’s output in this genre is nevertheless highly individual, developing the Bertoian techniques tangentially with the incorporation of his own architectural forms and concepts.
Winnie Brueggemann’s constructions, especially the “sounding sculptures,” derive from and depend largely upon elemental laws of physics and kinetic principles, approaching--possibly touching--the practical limits of artistic statement combined with supreme craftsmanship.
Brueggemann has produced a diverse collection of sounding sculptures-- each distinctive, each leading toward a new, uncharted area. “The surface is only scratched,” he says, “in terms of the possibilities offered by this unique art form.”
His creations in bronze, beryllium, copper and brass are variously cast and fabricated into diminutive, atavistic, organic forms, as well as lustrous human-scale totems. “Sounding sculptures” display a wide range in size, some rising to a height of 10 feet. When gently fondled, they respond softly with a delicate, ethereal clanging aptly described by one critic as “tintinnabulations.” In his sounding sculptures with two towers, a push on one tower starts the other tower swinging in “sympathetic vibrations.”