Heinz Leinfellner

Die große Ruhende, 1964/65 (Large Dormant)

From the 1940s onwards Heinz Leinfellner dealt with the motif of resting or ‘dormant’ figures, which have been a classical theme in art since antiquity. Leinfellner’s path led him from classical modernism to a cubist-constructivist language of forms, which had a formative influence on the image of post-war Austrian sculpture. This sculpture consists of roughly hewn, geometrically simplified individual elements that are, however, combined into a natural whole by their capture of the relaxed posture, thereby creating a perfect synthesis between forms of art and nature. 



Heinz Leinfellner dealt with the motif of resting or “dormant” figures as early as in the 1940s. It has been a rather classical topic in art since ancient times, fascinating both painters and sculptors equally. As regards the 20th century, Henry Moore’s work was a prime example. Of all basic postures of the human figure, standing, sitting and resting, Moore saw the biggest potential for the sculptor in the resting position as, in relation to composition and treatment of space it allowed for the highest degree of freedom.


Just like the great Englishman, Leinfellner too felt obliged to the trends of classical modernism, though he stylistically varied his “dormants” in the course of the decades. At the beginning, there were neo-classicist figures showing some proximity to Aristide Maillol’s sculptural work. They were followed by works, which with their pastous-lively surface, wrapped voluminous extremities and idiosyncratically proportioned body parts in a flickering aura, reminding us very much of Matisse’s sculptures.


He intensively occupies himself with primitive art, whereas he came to similar solutions as Picasso and André Derain. In the end, his path led to the cubist-constructivist language of forms, which sustainably coined the image of Austrian post-war sculpture. Finding exemplary expression in the works of Fritz Wotruba amongst others (Leinfellner was his colleague and assistant).


Leinfellner’s “Große Ruhende” (Large Dormant) is composed of roughly trimmed, geometrically simplified individual shapes that in the precise capture of the relaxed posture, however, combine to a natural whole. The artist did not forget to create a well-balanced composition as to the various directions in which arms, legs, torso and head point, thereby creating a perfect synthesis between art and natural form.


Author: Peter Peer

Plan & Overview: Position 5

Owner: [Federal Artothek]
Biography:Heinz Leinfellner

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