Reporter for "Das Goldene Blatt" magazine, Germany
The sculptor Kurt Arentz puts the finishing touches on the portrait-bust "President George Bush".
Did you know one is not allowed to make a toast to members of the royalty? The sculptor Kurt Arentz once almost make the transgession. As he wanted to raise his glass at a festive dinner to make a toast to Prince Charles, he was stopped by the Chief of Protocol: "The etikette prohibits something like that!" That happened in 1993, as the Prince of Wales was awarded the "Ecological Eagle" -- created by Kurt Arentz.
This was only one of many encounters with prominent personalities. Two eagles, "Liberty" and "Peace" -- the eagles in the coat-of-arts of America -- were handed over to President Ronald Reagan (in office from 1981 to 1989) in the White House. The presentation of the Reagan bust took place in 1991. At the same time, Kurt Arentz received the commission for a portrait of George Bush (in office from 1989 to 1993), with whom he now often corresponds.
Arentz has so far created 76 portrait-busts in bronze. They decorade reception halls and city squares. On the Laurentz Square in Köln we see the bust of Cardinal Josef Frings, in Leverkusen a "pedestrians-only" street will soon receive his life-size bronze sculpture of an 18th century soldier.
Are all the people he portrayed happy with their portraits? Kurt Arentz: "I was only critized twice, both times by women", he says and recalled a story about Max Liebermann, who reacted with these words to a criticism from a woman: "Dear lady, be quiet, or I will paint you as you really are."
But the artist is not only interested in the human face, but also in animals. He has created more than 700 animal sculptures, among them the Otter for the "Heinz-Sielmann-Award", with which are honored men or women engaged in the protection of wild animals, and supporters of the Foundation. And the "Ecological Eagle" awarded for merits for the preservation of Nature.
How long does he work on a bust? Kurt Arentz: "Six to eight weeks, and then it goes to the foundry." And how much does a bust like this weigh? "The bust of Herbert von Karajan weighs some 32 pounds, the one of the Wagner singer Peter Hofmann twice as much."
Kurt Arentz, born into the family of a businessman, grew up in Leverkusen. In the well-to-do circles in which his family moved, he became acquainted with sculptures and paintings at an early age. In 1977 he intensified his artistic work -- and ever since he constantly pursues it. "Once I got my hands on clay, I was never able to get away from that that divine material. The negative form made from clay is what is used to make a cast in bronze."
The artist, who was awarded the German "Merit Cross" for his artistic achievements, is preparing an exhibition "THE SCULPTOR KURT ARENTZ" at the Museum of European Art at the Nörvenich Castle in Germany, near Köln, from May 4 to August 31, 2002.