(in Bronze)

Is art only a mirror of its time, or might it also precede it ?

These were my first thoughts on looking at the works of the sculptor Gilbert Kruft.

There are few creations of art of the last decades, in this multiform disorientation, that can be attributed to sculpture in itself. Often in their artistic improvisation they are merely spectacular or provocatory, often reflecting the superficiality of our times, both in the loss of content and in the loss of harmony and aesthetics.

So many forms have occupied space under the great concept of art ( expanding through the millennia ) to become ennobled in its splendour, though still being part of the media nature of our times, which today determines our way of life.Thus, just as our society lives increasingly intensely in the present moment, rushing from one event to another, in the same way the art of today has to a large extent become an event of superficiality and appearance.

Yes, in many cases we could speak of a deliberate NON-ART, to uplift it as ART ( see Kassel, Venice....).

What a contrast we see to this scenario in the artistic expression of Kruft ! What is extraordinary about him, for an artist of today, is his spiritual investigation of the essence of man, which determines his work and which he divides into four themes :




THE EPILOGUE, in which he begins to take stock of the essentials.

With "La Recherche Humaine" , which becomes his main theme and leads into the "Epilogue" , Kruft begins to research the essence of man from an almost psychological perspective, not from any scientific curiosity, but rather from the philosophical issue of the human being.

His initial attention is focussed on the like in its physiognomy, formed by life and by its nature in expression. From this external study he turns towards an internal research of the person, where he analyses his past and the incisive experiences, to express them both in the figurative.

The third part contains more objective research on the essence of man, resulting in a clear development from "You" to the" Ego" and the" Id" , and concluding in the interpretation of the Conscience .

In the second thema, "The new lyric of the Gods" , he goes back ower two millennia to the roots of western culture, with a new interpretation of the Greek Divinities. These works are for him an initial testimony of an essential problem of man, religiousness, which becomes a determining feature in the history of human culture.

In a lighter context he deals with his third theme, "The seven letters of Erotica" , expressing them in seven interpretations whose sense restores to erotica its original poetry, in today's world of pornography.

Let me at this point express my admiration for the sculptor's great artistic breadth, which brings us to the conclusive clarifications of the "Epilogue" . This cycle, still at the beginning (with 7 sculptures so far) leads to the origins of human nature, its character and essence. As becomes evident right from the very first works, Kruft expresses the extreme forms of the human situation, like that of the Ego, in the form of Egoism, Egocentricity and Altruism, or the contrasting breaths of Euphoria, Depression or inner Equilibrium. Under the title "Epilogue" Kruft groups the human elements which could help man to recognise himself.

These are great themes, both spiritual and artistic, for which this sculptor, now in his sixties, has never known any form of adaptation to art trends. In order to better understand the origin of his extraordinary orientation, though, we need to know something about him.

When he finished his studies ( 1962 ), unlike other young artists, who usually try to get straight into the art world, he did exactly the opposite. He withdrew to a desert plateau in the south of France, "Le Causse de Sauveterre" , for a few years, to think and reflect on what he had studied. It is here that we find the key for a deeper comprehension of his expression and his subsequent artistic orientation. There is no doubt that the univocal character of this hermitage on the Causse de Sauveterre ( Plateau of the saviour land ), an incomparable landscape of Nothing, the cradle of the Mistral, helped to shape this young artist, freeing him of the cultural contradictions of the Sixties. Here, in these circumstances, we see the first spiritual shoots of his main theme "La Recherche Humaine" begin to emerge, along with the conviction that sculpture is not only Form but is nourished by the content expressed by Form.

With this notion Kruft obviously moves away from the main currents of present-day art.  The interested art lover, influenced by today's world of multimedia, seeks the spectacular art event of the moment and not a meditated reflection. But it is in this very decision, which becomes a constant feature of his work, that the extraordinary nature of Gilbert Kruft lies. The spiritual reflection on man, sui generis, becomes the creative subtance of his sculptures, accompanied by his idea of sculpture as a form of art with its own value to be respected.

His material is bronze,a noble material often violated today. With bronze he is at ease like few others. He has no need to himself with a glossy patina effekt. His plastic language is the bronze body, chiselled to perfection with its reflections of light, where any flaw in form finds no cover. We would have to go back to Brancusi to find a similar finish. The clear satin bronze tends ideally towards his formal language, totally individual.

At the beginning of the Seventies Kruft develops his own notion of form, entirely original, which opens up new, fascinating possibilities for him in the expression of his themes. He discovers the richnes of the free form in muscular anatomy, already studied, from a new aspect, going far beyond any naturalism or its abstraction, and leading to totally original anatomical compositions. He conceives new anatomies. The fluid passages with absolute naturalness from a leg to an arm, or from one arm to another, are the result of an interweaving of muscel forms, neutral in themselves, giving rise to a configuration of rare expressivity. Then you have to add his irremissible claim to Aesthetics.

The cultural space of the Mediterranean, where he has been living for decades, certainly has its importance. However even more decisive is withhout a doubt his inner necessity not to express himself unilaterally in thought and intuition.

Aesthetics is not Beauty or Formal pleasure. Aesthetics is a philosophical term and value, manifested in the way of thinking as a whole, and living from the balanced tension of the contrasting forces.

With this value, so rarely perceived today but formulated in his sculpture, and with his themes revolving round the essence of man, Kruft indicates an alternative to the current art scenario and precedes his time with inner certainty, a time which is about to take itself "ad absurdum ".

Our own time.

GILBERT KRUFT - an extraordinary personality in the expression of art of today.


Fernand Saint-Gilles
Historien d'Art