Rolf Sachs’s major solo exhibition at the MAKK Cologne.


Typisch Deutsch?

“Typisch Deutsch?” (Typical German?) is the new show by Rolf Sachs opening today at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst (MAKK) in Cologne. Sachs’s has contributed consistently to the art and design world over the years, I really admire the work that he does as well as the topic he's dealing with so I was really excited to hear about his show. I called him to find out a bit more about it.

Rolf Sachs - Genauigkeit - L’ArcoBaleno blog “Genauigkeit”, 2013. Made from brass.

Ambra Medda: I’ve been reading about the show, and it sounds amazing. It opens tomorrow?

Rolf Sachs: The show opens tomorrow, but the official opening is Monday. It all looks very good, and we've had a lot of interest because it’s an interesting thematic. So I’m very excited.

AM: Can you tell me about the show and the pieces you’ve made specifically for the show, are these unique pieces that were made specifically for the exhibition?

RS:  All in all, I’m showing 24 pieces, of which I'd say 20 were made specifically. The overall thought is basically me as a sort of international character with firm German roots. I've been realizing over the past 4 or 5 years that the perception of Germany has changed to the positive. We had the dark clouds historically of the past, of course, that we should never forget. But we should also remember what makes Germany, the traits of the German character. Which is why the country is so strong—because we’ve had a strong philosophical and educational base for hundreds of years. The Reformation gave us an ethos of being hard working—and that hard work will ultimately compensate you in life.

AM: So what would you say are the defining characteristics of German culture?

RS: Precision, punctuality, industriousness, cleanliness. And on the other side, Germans have this poetic side to them, which came out during the Romantic period. And it was probably because the Germans were so stringent and relatively hard that a lot of artists and intellectuals tried to break out of it and wanted to see the rest of the world. So you have this tension between the rational and the emotional side of the German. And it’s this tension that I'm trying to show.

AM: That’s fantastic. Thanks so much Rolf. Talk again soon.

RS: Thanks Ambra. Bye bye.

Rolf Sachs - Der Unendliche Geist ”‘Der Unendliche Geist”, 2013. Made from bronze.

Rolf Sachs - Der Unendliche Geist A towering four-metre tall sculpture of books, ‘Der unendliche geist’ refers to the significance of German thinking.

Rolf Sachs - Reinlichkeit “Reinlichkeit”, 2013. Made from goat hair. Showcasing Sachs’s witty and surrealist creative approach, these two brush panels are intended as wall pieces.

Rolf Sachs - Sorgfalt “Sorgfalt”, 2012. Made from linen and glass. A custom made embroidered piece of linen is presented behind a leaning glass panel.

Rolf Sachs - Pünktlichkeit “Pünktlichkeit”, 2013. Custom-made digital clock depicting milliseconds with a taxidermy cuckoo sitting close by.

Rolf Sachs - Fleiß “Fleiß”, 2013. Dressed in traditional mining clothes, standing atop a vintage miner’s jacket and under a glass dome, the 50cm tall anthracite coat gnome is a symbol of hard work and perseverance, representing the industriousness nature of the Germanic people.

Rolf Sachs - Genauigkeit - L’ArcoBaleno blog “Genauigkeit”, 2013. Made from brass. Used in the construction industry as a vertical reference line, Sachs’s version of the plumb-bob is made of 7kg solid brass.

“Rolf Sachs: Typisch Deutsch?” runs from 14 January until 20 April, 2014, at Museum für Angewandte Kunst (MAKK) in Cologne.

* Images courtesy of the Museum.

This interview has been edited and condensed.