Homage to Alf Lechner – Prominent contemporary German Steel Sculptor and Family Friend
I was born when he just had his first Gallery showing in Munich, in 1968. Later on he shall become my unofficial mentor for the arts.
Who is he? Alf Lechner. One of the “…most important German steel sculptors” according to Simone Schimpf, Director of the Museum for ‘Konkrete Kunst’ in Ingolstadt. Alf Lechner passed away February 25, 2017 in his home in Obereichstätt, Bavaria. He was 91 years old .
I carry many memories of Alf Lechner and his family in addition to the stories that I heard from my parents. Many times we visited him at his early home in Degerndorf, a home with a beautiful orchard-like back yard and with big steel sculptures greeting every visitor in the front.
I remember how impressed I was each time walking among his huge sculptures admiring the beauty of these, often rusty, big steel giants set against wild green nature that was sprinkled with rocks and pebbles. I could feel these big giants’ fascinating energy. They seemed to be one with earth’s breath and exhaling a magic beauty of strength. They were talking to me. Together with the untamed nature surrounding them, they were telling me a story. A story I didn’t understand in words but rather through my senses.
To me, this was the beginning of a long-lasting love for contemporary art, for impressive sculptures that would take me in and absorb me with all their might and take my breath away with their raw beauty.
Alf Lechner – Family Friend and Mentor
My father and Fredi, as we all called him, met long before Fredi became Alf Lechner, the famous German sculptor. He and his first wife ‘Bim’ and their three children, Veronika, Angie, and Katharina were part of my parent’s wedding, with Fredi being my parents’ Best Man. I remember spending many luscious dinners at their beautiful rustic house in Degerndorf, a house that sported a huge red entrance door with a golden door knocker. Something that must have really stuck with me since I vividly remember that beautiful door even today. I am sure this is the reason I always longed for a beautiful red door inviting guests into my home.
The house in Degerndof was big and beautiful, but also eerie in some way. At least for a then four/five-year old. I remember a spooky wine cellar and the creaking of the wood floors when searching for Fredi’s youngest daughter Katharina hoping she would spend some time with me while my parents enjoyed their time with Fredi and Bim. And then, there were the Siamese cats adding to the mystery of this fascinating home.
When I was about eleven, Fredi overheard a conversation I had with my parents while he and Bim were visiting us in Munich. My school offered violin lessons and one could take part in the school orchestra if you had a violin. It was a cool thing to be part of the school orchestra then and I tried to convince my parents how important a violin would be for me… Well, my parents didn’t budge. I already had a piano and piano lessons my mom said and that was enough. But the conversation took a surprising turn when suddenly Fredi tuned in to the conversation offering to lend me his old violin! What can I say, my life took a turn it might not have, if it hadn’t been for him. My path in the arts was paved and later on I went on to study music and theater.
Through the years my family and I saw new sculptures on his premises switching places with their older brothers, making their homes into museums and cities around Germany, sometimes changing in appearance from rusty to polished majestic steel titans, but always carrying on with the all-encompassing theme of simplicity.
Time moved on and my personal visits became less frequent as I turned an adult, especially after my move to California. But I feel fortunate that my older son got the privilege to meet this prolific artist several times as a toddler and later on again while visiting Germany, when we all got a chance to see Fredi again in his new home in Obereichstätt, where he showed us around his amazing sculpture garden in the midst of nature. A setting I think suits his sculptures best. And of course, we paid a visit to the “Lechner Museum” in Ingolstadt.
I cherish my many more memories and will always recall Alf Lechner fondly. I am grateful for every moment I was able to spend with this gifted sculptor and experience his powerful, analytical mind at work that managed to get the essence of simplicity captured in steel. I am forever grateful to him for having opened my eyes to the beauty of nature, to the energy of texture, simple movement and form and particularly for having ignited my love for the arts.
Striving for Simplicity in Alf Lechner’s Own Words
„Mein ganzes Lebensziel ist die Einfachheit. In der Einfachheit steckt so viel Kompliziertes, dass man gar nicht einfach genug sein kann“, sagte der Künstler einmal.
“My whole goal in life is [to strive for] simplicity. In simplicity lays so much complexity that we cannot be simple enough.”
Rest in Peace, Fredi!
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