The “Männle” Is Back
Stephan Balkenhol Sculpture On Display Again

Following comprehensive restoration, Stephan Balkenhol’s Large Pillars Figure is on view again in Lörrach. Eighteen years ago, the “Männle” (Little Man), as Lörrach residents affectionately refer to the man on the red pillars, was installed on Senser Platz. “The figure”, says Michael Fritsch, branch manager of Deutsche Bank Lörrach, “quickly became a symbol of the city and a popular meeting place.” But the wooden sculpture was ravished by the elements to such an extent that it had to be taken down and restored. Now the “Large Pillars Figure”, a loan from the Deutsche Bank Collection, is on exhibit in the lobby of the Burghof cultural center protected from wind and rain. During the restoration Balkenhol shortened the pillars on which his larger-than-life-sized figure stands. At the same time, Senser Platz will keep its iconic artwork. The artist will develop a weatherproof bronze replica of the figure for the square. As elements that create an identity, sculptures in public spaces play an important role in Lörrach’s urban planning. The Lörrach Sculpture Path encompasses some 20 works by German and international artists, including Bruce Nauman’s enterable reinforced concrete object Truncated Pyramid Room on the square in front of the Burghof.
 
After Deutsche Bank moved into its domicile on the newly designed Senser Platz in 1993, it invited five artists to conceive a sculpture for this location. A jury selected the design submitted by Stephan Balkenhol, a man clad in black trousers and a white shirt standing on four-meter-high red pillars. The Large Pillars Figure was crafted from a single piece of Douglas fir. Coarsely hewn and colored wooden sculptures are the hallmark of Balkenhol, who is one of Germany’s most internationally renowned sculptors. The human figure is at the center of his work. The artist developed “basic types,” to which his man with the black pants and white shirt belongs. Many of his works are on display in public spaces, where they serve as foils for traditional monuments. Balkenhol does not honor rulers, heroes, or thinkers. Rather than extraordinary people, he is interested in “every man” and “every woman,” who usually remain anonymous. “My sculptures,” says the artist, “do not tell stories. They contain something mysterious. It is not my job to reveal what it is, but the viewer’s task to discover it.” 
A.D.