Konrad Klapheck

Over time, I discovered rules that I developed into a system. I now always began by drawing the vertical and horizontal centre lines on the canvas with red pencil, thus obtaining a coordinate cross that I could rely on better when laying out my angular triangle than on the outer edges of the picture, which often sagged. Now there were numerous prohibitions: No line was allowed to pass through the intersection point, no intersection point of two charcoal lines was allowed to fall on the red pencil cross. All distances between the intersections on the cross had to be different in length, none, not even as the sum of two distances, was allowed to repeat.

I worked with the folding rule, covered the drawings with numbers, and when the foreshortening problems of perspective were added, the calculator became my main instrument. And what was the point of it all? I wanted to achieve the greatest possible tension, the greatest possible asymmetry, and in deliberately avoiding repetition, I thought of twelve-tone music and its prohibition against repeating a tone in the twelve-tone row.

But the hope that a fixed set of rules would make drawing easier for me was turned into the opposite. I often didn’t know whether I was correcting something to satisfy my rules or whether I was really getting closer to solving my compositional problem.

Klapheck, Konrad: Über meine Zeichnungen, in: Hofmann, Werner (Hrsg.): Konrad Klapheck. Retrospektive 1955-1985, München 1985, p. 26.

Klapheck found the upside-down bicycle in a Kaufhof newspaper ad. “I kept the newspaper page for almost ten years before I felt up to the task,” says Klapheck. The bicycle was completely redesigned, not something projected, and the wheels with their 36 spokes proved particularly difficult. “After all, it not only has to look somewhat believable technically, it also has to be artistically right.” Klapheck had seen the Tour de France supply wagons in France with their spare bikes on the roof. The inverted wheel appears as an instrument of torture and stands for the maltreated winner.

“Konrad Klapheck, Retrospektive 1955–1985”, Hamburg, Tübingen, Munich (Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kunsthalle Tübingen, Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst), 1985, p. 152.

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