The bust of Lenin by Fritz Cremer

Lenin looks ahead, but this time it is not the usual victorious look of the revolutionary hero. The portrait bust by the prestigious sculptor Fritz Cremer presents a contemplative, perhaps even worried Lenin. What he is thinking about or worrying about is up to the viewer.

Fritz Cremer (1906-1993) moved to the GDR in 1950, where he was vice president of the Academy of Arts between 1974 and 1983. His work often focuses on psychic abysses and deep emotional states. With his political sculptures, Cremer dealt with the Nazi atrocity, but also paid homage to many of the communist icons, such as Karl Marx or Bertolt Brecht. Lenin, however, became the subject of one of his artworks only once and that was in 1970 when he created this bronze sculpture weighing 14 kilos.

This project was initiated and co-financed on the occasion of Lenin’s 100th birthday by a few important GDR politicians, such as Heinz Hoffmann, Paul Wandel and Helene Berg. Each of them had a personal connection to the West German city of Mannheim, which probably explains why the bust, created in the GDR, was given as a present to the local Communist party (DKP). In 1997, the DKP decided to make a permanent loan of the sculpture to the art museum Kunsthalle Mannheim, where it is exhibited together with the bronze busts of the poet Friedrich Schiller (by Karl Ostertag) and the painter Oskar Kokoschka (by Alfred Hrdlicka).

Photo: Kunsthalle Mannheim / Rainer Diehl

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