A declaration of love

Read Ralf Kirbergs declaration of love to sculpture and to sculpture network.

When I was 17 years old I was overwhelmed by a love that continues to enrich my life to this day. At that time, I had just reached the Port of Calais, burdened by my heavy rucksack. As I puffed my way to the Dover channel ferry, I suddenly found myself in front of Rodin's sculpture "The Burghers of Calais", and all of my travails were forgotten. With their dramatic air, the figures moved me in a way that no other work of art had before. It was love of sculpture at first sight. But even then, I was immediately aware of a problem: much too big for the living room!

Although this may sound facetious, size is a very real stumbling block for sculpture, often perceived as something monumental, something for the public space. Speaking for myself, it wasn't till 18 years after my intensive encounter, that I purchased my first sculpture in 1974. Whilst we grow up with pictures on our walls, the works of sculptors are somewhat more distant. A path to this art form is not easy to find. sculpture network's aim is to help people discover it.


The idea of sculpture network arose in 2003 as a result of a chance encounter with Hartmut Stielow. At the time this sculptor was much taken with a network idea he had discovered in the US. Until that time various groupings on the sculpture scene had kept themselves to themselves: on the one side artists, on the other art enthusiasts, here the gallery owners, there the museums - with everything further divided into national groups. The idea of establishing a network that would bring these diverse groups in contact with one another was also a tempting one for me.

Ralf Kirberg with Harmut Stielow - Founders of
sculpture network

A visit to Hartmut Stielow's studio, with no specific aim, became a seminal moment, the germination of an alliance. From that time on we had a common goal: cross-border support of the concept of three-dimensional art. Specifically, to awaken interest, understanding and, ideally, love for the work of the artists.
Love at first sight is very much a one-off, moreover, my enthusiasm for a work of art is only triggered when I am aware of the story behind it. I therefore encourage all art lovers to seek dialogue with artists. This aids judgement, sharpens the eye, gladdens vision and makes collecting art easier.

This idea binds us at sculpture network and is always at the fore at our events, especially our international meetings, where our common interests and convictions easily overcome language barriers. I look forwards with confidence to the development of this love story, and trust it will spread its passion to many more places.


Author: Ralf Kirberg

Tax adviser, studied law and accounting. Art collector. Spokesman for management of LHI Leasing 1978-2004. Retired as of 2005. Founding member and Chairman of sculpture network. Moreover, board member of different foundations in Munich devoted to the research and teaching of library science.


Photo credit: Ralf Kirberg at Sculpture Park Cologne, Sculpture "Vivi" by Christina Doll

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