Clemens Weiss, laying bridges between the different art disciplines and philosophy
Clemens Weiss, a German born artist, works at two continents at the same time: America, New York, and Europe, Mönchengladbach, Germany. He has a studio in both cities. He started as a working artist in 1974 and produced a great body of works, ranging from drawings, sculptures (among them chess objects, shipwrecks, ceramics in stele), installations, theater and chandeliers.
His installations consist of transparent glass constructions in which often drawings, written texts and other objects are inserted, which are also used in his theater productions. In these installations and groups of work, Weiss tries to bring together the different genres of art and philosophy. His works are shown in galleries in America and Europe, specially Germany, and his work can be found in renowned museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
The Niederrhein area (Lower Rhine Valley)
Clemens Weiss: “I started as an working artist in 1974, but also studied various sciences for a number of years, supporting those studies with the sale of artworks, creating my own collectors mostly through those studies.” Clemens was an eager student, following various studies in the years 1977 to 1982: art, philosophy, medicine and geology in Krefeld, Düsseldorf and Vienna.
In 1983 he moved to Süchteln – accidental or not, in Süchteln the church is dedicated to St. Clemens. Süchteln is part of the city of Viersen (Niederrhein). In this place Weiss could concentrate on his philosophical and visual work. Niederrhein is fertile ground for artists, another well known artist from the Niederrhein area is Joseph Beuys. In 1986 Weiss got a studio in Mönchengladbach and in 1987 he established his main studio and residence in New York.
“My idea was to prepare a body of work that somehow represented my scientific, philosophical and artistic ideas and interests in Europe, and then starting to exhibit my work when I moved to New York in 1987.”
Moving to New York
Since then he exhibited and lectured on two continents simultaneously. “I had works of 15 years prepared in Germany. I did not have to ship work back and forth.”
Prior to moving to New York he did not have any connection with the American artworld. “In the years before, while I was preparing my work in Europe, I didn’t take part in any artshows. I was fully concentrated on making works. So I had to be very practical on how to proceed. It had to be philosophical, conceptual and practical at the same time.”
Asked about his theme, he says: “If there were a central theme within my work it would be the creation of a visual unified language that unites all the various media, drawing, painting, texts and sculptures. And further finding a visual Form that arranges all these elements within my work in ‘In-Formation’, and then revealing the associations and logic, or Information behind all those elements.”
His installations are transparent glass constructions that often contain drawings, text, paintings, and objects and he uses a similar technique in his theater productions. He laid numerous bridges between the different art disciplines and philosophy.
Why was this theme so important to him? Clemens Weiss: “At the beginning of my artistic practice I didn’t find the artistic standard for combining different medias convincing. For instance the 'Combines' that Robert Rauschenberg made, and that were forced together by just mechanical means.”
Are there key works in his oeuvre, and if so, can he indicate them? “I do have key works, they are larger installation segments with countless works inside. I can mention Installation segment no. 1, Installation no. 2, Installation no. 3, Installation segment no. 3.”
Finally: Clemens Weiss is engaged in international cultural exchange to oppose the large dangers threatening mankind. See his sculpture Regarding Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which is permanently installed in the Palace of Nations in Geneva, as an official present from the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations. “The sculpture consits of a group of steles with forty-two handwritten texts related to international nuclear treaties and covers the complexity of the nuclear age until 1995, the year the sculpture was finished.”
1) Large Shipwreck, Crystal Piloting a Construction, 1993, 2) Gold Chess 2016, 3) Gold Chess 2016 detail, 4) Octopus on Red Drawings 2012 detail, 5) Stele, Octopus on Red Drawings 2012, 6) Busen-Zoff um Cora, 2012 detail, 7) Stele, Das Manifest.. , 2012 detail, 8) Satyr 2001, 9) Sculpture regarding non-proliferation of nuclear Weapon 1995, 10) The Aftermath series I.: Jacked Jets destroy, 12 September 2001, New York Times, 11) The Aftermath series II.: rising from the ashes 19 september 2002 New York Post, 12) Chandelier, Shattered thoughts: A speech to Artist.. 2013, 12) Chandelier, Shattered thoughts: A speech to Artist, 2013, 13) Performance: Oh Man, oder Die Klage der Kunst 2007, 14) portrait Clemens Weiss