BY HERMANN MEYER
Frankfurt Am Mein
The Jewish world produces often for various reasons, a larger number of painters and graphic artists than sculptors. Notice a young sculptor, whose impressive work is gaining more and more attention in spite of unfavorable circumstances.
There is probably no doubt that sculpture is the most neglected of the main disciplines in the arts. Certainly the fault lies also in the lack of flexibility of object, the colorless material used. There are certainly more profound reasons why sculptures tend to have a smaller audience.
The abstract beauty concept in clear form is not in the blood of Northern European and few people perceive this "musical form" or «volume» as the sculptor Ernesto de Fiori, has named that art form.
This “music” is featured in the sculptural works of the young sculptor from Berlin, Kurt Harald Isenstein in a harmony that is certainly unique. Indeed there were many other young stars that rose like meteors and produced this first glory. But whoever takes a look at the development of Isenstein’s work, one will find a peaceful progression of a maturing artist’s personality.
Born in Hannover 1898 of maternal Danish origin (his great-grandfather, Professor Wolf, was the Chief Rabbi in Copenhagen, and the founder of the local Jewish community), the boy came early on to Berlin where he attended a very progressive school working with clay.
His rare talents became apparent. After leaving school he began his serious artistic career and focused on stonemasonry, but found little reward in it. His academic studies suffered during World War I interrupting his career by his army service.
He studied briefly under Peter Breuer, Hugo Lederer and Wilhelm Gerstel. In 1921, he was awarded the first Michael Beer Award but his independent nature did not allow him to fully benefit from it, and we see him turning his back to academic studies.
An exceptional first exhibition followed but left him doubtful because he did not feel that he was ready to show his works in larger format. The 23 years old artist accepted a teaching position for sculptors at a Berlin school of art, where his pedagogical talent became apparent.
During these years he produced a series of sculptures, in addition to many graphic and compositional works. His focused on sculptural portraits which in themselves would have made Isenstein known. His spirited portraits created during that time with the appropriate material used, shows his sensitivity and mastery of the sculptural medium. How he overcame an apparent contrariness into the sculptural vision was downright amazing!
Looking at for example the sophisticated and moody portrait presentation of the musician James Simon Emil Ludwig or the Jupiter head of Einstein or other great simple shapes, it is almost impossible not to perceive the creative process of the artist. One sees the fingertips looking to catch the impressions of the moment in hasty impulsiveness in a great formal unity that the sculptor allows himself to create arrive in slow and balanced movements.
It is very interesting to notice that he allows himself to expose the spiritual core of the sculpture itself without violence or force. An exception perhaps is the Mask of the Woman P, where the artist out of pure joy is able to express perfect warmth.
His portrait of the poet Arno Holz, created while still a young man brought him much admiration.
The wonderful simple form, of youthful simplicity and childish chuckle is clear in his sculpture of bust of a young girl in a natural environment makes the artist, without exaggeration, one of the most recognized portraitists of all times. His somewhat stylized Arabesque decay imposed by the necessities of the medium characterized his work.
By the disgrace of time and the lack of patrons would not allow the young artist and his numerous ideas and projects to move beyond his small design projects. The sculptor’s graphic talent, in addition to his fine musically versatile and artistic capacity is far from ordinary.
Bearing in mind that these uniform works in which extreme conflicts can arise, particularly in the artistic sense.
Kurt Harald Isenstein who I personally believe is "standing still in the beginning", will give us yet some remarkable work.