Modern & Contemporary Auction

Modern & Contemporary Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 26. Vor der Zeit (Bamian) (Before Time (Bamian))   .

Property from a Private European Collection

Norbert Schwontkowski

Vor der Zeit (Bamian) (Before Time (Bamian))

Lot Closed

April 7, 12:25 PM GMT


26,000 - 36,000 EUR

Lot Details


Norbert Schwontkowski

1949 - 2013

Vor der Zeit (Bamian) (Before Time (Bamian))

signed and dated 2006 on the reverse

oil on canvas

180 by 110.3 cm., 70¾ by 43½ in.

Contemporary Fine Arts Galerie, Berlin

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Susanne Pfeffer, Vertigo, Berlin 2007, illustrated in the catalogue

The composition of the present work is based on a Buddhist religious site at a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan. Two monumental Buddha statues were carved into the rock, the larger one of 55 meters height, depicted in this work, probably dates back to the early 7th century. On February 26, 2001, the leader of the Taliban issued a decree ordering the elimination of all non-Islamic statues and sanctuaries in Afghanistan. This included the destruction of the two giant Buddhas in Bamyan, which represents an historic interference with cultural heritage.

“Rarely have I worked from photography. Maybe a few paintings, which were made from a group of photographs that I took from Afghanistan, but that was because it generated from a political idea I had.”

Norbert Schwonkowski cited in: Phong H. Bui, ‘Art in Conversation. Norbert Schwontkowski with Phong Bui’, Interview, December 2009, online.

Norbert Schwonkowski painted elaborately with a reduced, earthy palette in the classic wet-on-wet technique. Without pronounced contrasts he depicted the Afghan desert with its glooming tones. Painted after a tourist picture, the subject does not seem banal or kitschy, it rather possesses strong reflection and conveys the message of the artists who addressed this major world political matter.