“8 Limestones” by Ulrich Rückriem


When I first saw this a few years ago I was advised that it was not an art installation and that it was in fact part of an expensive ventilation system. As I liked these dark blocks I began to believe that it was a modern sculpture and then one day I saw a notice nearby indicating that it was “8 Limestones” by Ulrich Rückriem.

Ulrich Rückriem completed an apprenticeship as a stone mason in Düren from 1957 to 1959 and spent the following two years working as journeyman for the stonemason's lodge at Cologne cathedral. During these years he also spent two semesters studying at the Cologne Werkschulen under Ludwig Gies. Rückriem travelled extensively through southern Europe, Morocco and Tunisia in 1962. After his return he decided to become a sculptor and settled in Nörvenich near Düren in 1963. He had his first one-man exhibition one year later at the Leopold-Hoesch Museum in Düren.

Rückriem developed his own working method in 1968. The working material and the working process are made the subject of the work by duplicating, splitting, reducing and slightly changing the original material. The sculptor moved to Mönchengladbach in 1969, where he shared a studio with Blinky Palermo in an old factory. His first exhibition with the new stone sculptures took place in the same year at the Galerie Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf.

Rückriem's work was much praised in the following years with important exhibitions, such as at the Haus Lange in Krefeld in 1970. Rückriem exhibited works at the documenta 5, 7, 8 and 9 in Kassel between 1972 and 1992. He was a professor of sculpture at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg from 1974 to 1984. Rückriem expanded his range of working materials at the end of the 1970s and began experimenting with granite, dolomite, wood and iron. He exhibited four split dolomites at the biennal in Venice in 1978. Ulrich Rückriem became professor of sculpture at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf in 1984 and then at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Frankfurt am Main in 1988. Today, the artist lives in Ireland. His self-reflective works in stone, iron and wood are an important contribution to process art.
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