While Kolbe studied the most primeval artistic question—that of the human form—it is the exceeding modernity of their execution which ultimately distinguishes him. Reminiscent of and derived from the movement of modern dancers, Kolbe’s elongated figures celebrate the constancy of the human form in a rapidly changing world. Executed with the utmost sensibility for form and content, the artist brilliantly renders Sitzende with grace and composure. The spirit with which Kolbe has depicted the model is highly evocative, elegantly capturing a brief moment of stasis. Interpreting the human form as a vessel holding the greatest secret, Kolbe constantly sought to uncover its most covert capabilities. Commenting on the development of his style away from mere natural representation, Kolbe noted: “My works no longer originate from nature...I have come closer to the plastic essence of things and can therefore lend more expression to the human form” (quoted in Ursel Berger, op. cit., Berlin, 1990, p. 66, translated from the German). Revered by the Third Reich for his glorification of the human form, Kolbe refused the invitation to sculpt Adolf Hitler.
A favored artist of the entire Rockefeller family, four works by Kolbe were gifted to The Museum of Modern Art in 1940 by Nelson Rockefeller’s mother and one of the founders of the institution, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.
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