Pallas - Carsten Theumer, Bildhauer, Medailleur

No longer of this world, her shape about to dissolve, liquefying yet still upright, with her one human foot, the other one fishlike, melting into the water, Pallas stands before me in all her grace, her warrior’s helmet and the Aegis protecting and at the same time revealing her beautiful body. I see her every day. She doesn’t look at me. She looks into her Self, perhaps already perceiving the liquid realm she is bound to enter. But I have to look at her, time and time again. I love her sadness, her pride, her force, as well, and her beauty, of course.

Pallas, daughter of Triton, God of the Sea, grew up with Zeus’ daughter Athena. The two girls loved to engage in playful fighting, to compete with one another. Then, one day, their youthful game took a serious turn, for Pallas was about to defeat Athena. Seeing this, Zeus threw his Aegis, his shield, his storm cloud imbued with thunder and lightning, between the two young women. Distracted by it, Pallas looked away as Athena dealt her deadly blow. Athena, stricken by grief, created an effigy of her friend, depicting her with the Aegis protecting her chest, which could have saved her from the lethal lighting strikes.

I gaze at this silent figure: Her long, wavelike hair cascades softly down her back, tamed and wild at the same time, caressing her beautiful head, tied back just enough so it doesn’t bother her when she fights, but still highlighting her delicate and yet enticing femininity, becoming one with her feminine body, just as her feet become one with the water. Daughter of Triton, Beauty of the Seas. Her capacity to fight destroyed by the devastating lightning strikes of Zeus’ Aegis, its almighty powers turned against her. She lowers her eyes in silent, unspeakable grief, revealing Athena’s tragic loss at the same time. Sometimes, when I take a silent moment to gaze upon her, I almost forget that she’s cast in heavy metal, as she seems to move so lightly towards the ocean, ready to dissolve into it, to face eternity.


Susanne Theumer

The Artefact

Das Artefakt - Carsten Theumer, Bildhauer, Medailleur

A giant eye trapped in a spiral, the fossil remains of a mammal and other fragments of life lie scattered, partially buried in churning soil, in unreal, hostile ground. Did a disastrous mudslide cause this devastation? A giant hand reaches for the sky, its fingers forming a V, occidental gesture of peace and victory, and, in Asian cultures, a symbol of luck. A small spaceman is the astonished witness of these remains, seemingly helpless in the face of his discovery. Did he just land in that archaic space- capsule? Is that possible? The spaceship evokes the armor of a knight from the Middle Ages, a technical relic of times gone by. Its shape and color are confusing in this seemingly so unambiguous scene. The escape ramp is shaped like a broken, old water pipe. Can this capsule really fly? Has it come from another time? Is the spaceman able to travel within the time continuum, as depicted in the film “Interstellar”? Or is he looking at relics of an alien civilization?

The work raises questions and leaves the many possible answers up to the observer. The Artefact is a caper, a captivating irritation, a contrast to our habitual experiences and traditional imagery. The artist celebrates his profound joy in spinning tales. He evokes the explorer’s boundless delight in the face of the unknown, and thus the initially inexplicable. The scenery conveys a strong feeling of respect for those artefacts, eternally trapped in ore, for art itself and the life of civilizations long gone. Perceiving this thought in its entirety, the work makes us marvel at their nemesis, and not in a merely rhetoric way. We are presented with layers: On the one hand the eerie scenery, on the other a perfect allegory of our fascination with archeology, opening a third, fourth and possibly even fifth associative dimension.

In his song “Space Oddity” (1969), David Bowie used these beautiful words to express this feeling: “This is Major Tom to ground control / I'm stepping through the door / And I'm floating in a most peculiar way / And the stars look very different today / For here / am I sitting in a tin can / far above the world / Planet Earth is blue / and there's nothing I can do... Ground control to Major Tom / your circuit’s dead / there's something wrong / Can you hear me, Major Tom?”

Carsten Theumer tells a contemporary story that is, in the best sense, a romantic one. Its symbolic force corresponds with fascinating plasticity. Offering us a new perspective on traditional sculpture.

Ulf Dräger


Liberty Island

Liberty Island - Carsten Theumer, Bildhauer, Medailleur

The fire has gone out. The flame of freedom and progress has died, the torch is broken and doomed to fade into nothingness. Its symbol – “La Liberté éclairant le Monde” or “Liberty Enlightening the World” – is lost in a maelstrom, sinking into the unfathomable depths, into the water or into the mud, a primal matter lacking any solid form. An allegory of the abyss, of the omnipresent demonic forces.

The scenery embodies the idea of total failure. It is a metaphor for the existential danger that threatens our civilization, a doomsday scenario to end the bourgeois era, the age of technical innovation. Like the great works of William Turner and Caspar David Friedrich, Carsten Theumer succeeds in sending a shiver down the unsuspecting observer’s spine.

Has our dream of freedom already become an imaginary vision of a mythologized past? The tabula ansata, the Declaration of Independence and Liberty’s crown with its seven rays have not yet entirely disappeared. The heavy, broken chains at the statue’s feet, however, have already been engulfed in the abyss. One of the most famous figures in the history of sculpture has become nothing but an archeological artefact. And it seems that the monumental idea, the inspirational force of a republican vision, is going down with it.

Carsten Theumer conveys his feelings precisely without lecturing. The sinking Statue of Liberty is a visual antithesis of any romantic reverie. It is a strange irritation, a painful precognition of the concerns that now arise in light of current American politics.

At first glance we might sense a trace of caricature, but a second look reveals a fitting depiction of this present scenario of our existence. Like a seismograph indicating a sudden change, the work gives us reason to pause. The associations that arise are multi-facetted and complex.

The narrative moment isn’t the only thing that strikes a chord. The sculptor allows us to discover unusual natural forms: inexplicably amorphous, fascinating as the bizarre lava currents flowing out of a volcano, or the astonishing force of a geyser fiercely tearing the material forms of civilization apart with irresistible power, seizing them, reuniting them with Mother Earth. Here, the sculptor has found a contemporary form of expression that expands the traditional scope of sculpture. In terms of its narrative, the work exudes a strong symbolic force that simultaneously corresponds with fascinating plasticity.

Ulf Dräger

Myth Creation Reflection – Self-portrait of the Artist

Wellness - Carsten Theumer, Bildhauer, Medailleur

The artist himself named this work “Wellness”. The title refers to the vortex, the water that forced the molten wax into the mold that forms the basis of the sculpture. A head emerges from this basis, sculptured in the round. This can only be a portrait of an individual. We soon realize that this is Carsten Theumer himself, raising his head above the swirling waters. Traditionally, the unambiguous and snappy title “Self-portrait” would suggest itself. But Carsten Theumer is a modest man, so he chose a different title. His Self isn’t meant to be at the core of possible associations, it is not work- immanent as is generally the case with self-portraits. But where does it stand, this ominous Self, in relation to the artwork, being a central part of it? A closer look shows that what seems to be swirling water could just as well be something quite different. The bronze is sticky, it flows around Theumer’s head like dough, a lava-like swamp that has already engulfed his body. Is the artist about to drown? Is this an allegory of being lost in existence? Or is he becoming one with the material? This is not an unambiguous association either. Our possible interpretations are complex and, in a way, antithetic: rise and fall, destruction and creation. For the head might just as well be emerging, followed by the rest of the body, forming itself minute by minute out of this sticky vortex. This small-scale sculpture is a symbol of the act of creation and is therefore a myth in itself. The artist is a creator, forming a figure out of matter – in this case creating himself.

Philipp Jahn 



MuseMachtMoneten - Carsten Theumer, Bildhauer, Medailleur

Applications, appreciation, benefits, bills, chaos, complaints, communication, conviviality, cost of living, doubt, envy, exams, exhibitions, family, fees, guts, heating, ideologies, illness, joy, know-how, liability, love, money, neglect, orientation, pressure, qualification, reading, reluctance, social
security, skill enhancement, solitude, studio rent, tax return, technology, tools, torment, upheaval, voyages, will and zest: The trivial and the profound matters of life have an impact on artistic creation. There he is, standing in his studio, contemplating his half-finished sculpture, about to make an important creative decision, to take the right step. The muse is with him, she wants to whisper in his ear, and he wants to hear what she has to say. But the kiss of the muse – that fickle moment in which the artist sees intuitively and acts on this inspiration – is elusive and fragile. Can he hear her? Doubts may arise. The muse is dragged away, grabbed by her hair. It’s a man with a shark’s head, sucking her in. Theumer’s work was created for an artistic project titled “Art Coins Money: MUSE MACHT MONETEN”, which primarily united creative positions of students of the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle. Thus, the shark-man, symbol of financial sharks, possibly represents money or even the manifold factors that determine life from A to Z, factors that can separate the muse from the artist. Art is free – but the artist isn’t and never has been. And even the lucky ones, who have grown older and have been able to create a good network and working conditions that suit them, might realize that they have been changed on the way, that they themselves have worn the shark mask, have assumed a role that led them away from the muse. Once aware of this, two reactions suggest themselves: remove the mask or grab a pair of scissors. Chop off the muse’s hair to make sure that no shark ever has the chance to tear her away.

Bernhard Weisser



Sprache, Johannes Bobrowski - Carsten Theumer, Bildhauer, Medailleur

He looks at us, JOHANNES BOBROWSKI 1917-1965, his eyes both alert and inward-looking, his gaze steady, interrogative, questioning himself as well as the observer. 100 years have passed since his birth, and now, more than half a century after his death, the sculptor creates his image of the poet, out of letters and words, giving him a name and jotting down his short life, 1917-1965, a life between yesterday’s world and an unknown future, cast in ore, the writing conveying a feeling of lightness that is in stark contrast to his chosen material, the heaviness of which is reminiscent of the poet’s “darkness” – as if the sculptor intended to give the medal wings to counter the weight of soil and metal, to lighten the burden with wings of words and language.

Der Baum größer al – his face emerges from the text – s die Nacht – the observer becomes a reader, his attention turns to the writing, to the text, to the poem. How will it go on?... mit dem Atem – Bobrowski had beautiful handwriting, legible, for those familiar with the script, hardly anyone writes like that nowadays, they call it “Old German”, as if our fathers and grandfathers were centuries away. And yet, they are so near.

We are supposed to turn the medal, to look at this human being from different angles, which in turn gives the writing and his face even greater plasticity, as they emerge from their background – letters, verbal entity, carrier of words, a human. In motion, his eyes begin to sparkle, and so does the writing. The tree reappears on the back, but now it has company, there are four of them, bordering an avenue, extending it, until it seems almost endless, leading to the neighboring house. And with it, to traces of destruction, the flood, a sinking house, a menorah – who could escape?

We flip it again, cast another glance at the poet, at his portrait that stretches out towards us, distinctive but gentle, as it emerges a little further from its verbal ground, comes close to us – an encounter. By the means of language and discourse, whilst his large ears also suggest that he was an able listener, as his contemporaries attest – a true listener, mindful, friendly and interested. This is how he approaches us. There they are in beautiful communion, the human being and the language, his language, united in harmony, in a work of art made by the sculptor, conveying with finesse and sensitivity a feel for the breath of the lakes and the whispering voices that break the silence - giving them shape.

Johannes Schilling

The Fall of Man


Der Sündenfall - Carsten Theumer, Bildhauer, Medailleur

'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.' (Genesis 3:3)
Oh, but please do! It’s a blessing that the serpent of knowledge came to meet Eve, an inquisitive and curious woman who was to become mother of all the living. What a blessing that she defied God and his laws. We have to walk the stony paths on Earth, devour the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Who wants to live forever? Or stay in paradise?
We want to know, to see, to perceive. We want to learn and make mistakes.
It’s a good thing Eve wasn’t a good girl and took a big bite out of that apple. And it’s a good thing that Adam listened to his wife, too. They gnawed that apple right down to its core, good job! That core is now the first sign on their way out of Eden, guiding them down the path that lies ahead. The serpent has shown them the way, the egg of knowledge, symbol of life, crowned and protected by the wonderfully curved tooth of a boar, representing courage, force and humor, for it is humor that brings joy into our lives. Adam and Eve are still a little hesitant, bemoaning their fate, but they know their way, and a new era begins – the transition from the divine to the human.

Ann Odam