Day 29/365 of Steel – Menashe Kadishman

Menashe Kadishman (21/8/1932 – 8/5/2015)

I discovered Kadishman’s work during our visit to the Jewish Museum in Berlin.
The Memory Void, one of the symbolic spaces on the ground level of the Libeskind building, includes the installation Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves) by Menashe Kadishman. More than 10,000 faces with open mouths, cut from heavy round steel plates, cover the floor of the ground floor void. These faces had different expression, from that of horror to shock to resignation. It recalled in an intense way the horror of the persecution of the Jews during Nazism.

Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves) by Menashe Kadishman
Fig 1: Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves) by Menashe Kadishman
Photo: Superchilum

Throughout his long career, Menashe Kadishman has produced a wide range of sculptures, earthworks, performances, installations, and paintings. In his early, more modernist sculptural works, Kadishman focused on form, tension, and balance, while later he would develop a looser, more expressive style.

"Suspended" by Menashe Kadishman
Fig 2: “Suspended” by Menashe Kadishman
©The Estate of Menashe Kadishman
Photo by Jerry L. Thompson

The two simple forms of Menashe Kadishman’s Suspended engage in a gravity-defying balance that belies expectation. Seen from a distance, atop one of two adjacent hilltops, the sculpture’s balancing act is surprising. Viewed up close, the massive scale of the steel work becomes apparent and its structural viability even more difficult to comprehend. With no visible evidence of the engineering holding the sculpture up, Suspended prompts contemplation of the relationship between its two conjoined, towering masses, coupled with questions about what lies below ground. Rich and rusted, the patina of the weathered steel wraps the stark geometric shapes in a skin-like sheath.

Eight Positive Tress by Menashe Kadishman
Fig 3: Eight Positive Trees by Menashe Kadishman
©The Estate of Menashe Kadishman
Photo by Jerry L. Thompson

Kadishman’s “negative” forms of stylized trees cut out from sheets of weathering steel were exhibited in the Venice Biennale in 1978. The viewer could see through the empty tree-shaped spaces, as well as walk through them to encounter the landscape. The steel silhouettes of Storm King’s Eight Positive Trees are the shapes cut out from the trees exhibited in Venice. 

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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