CAST ART MEDALS FROM THE GREAT WAR
Ludwig Gies was born in Munich, Germany on September 3, 1887. His general education was limited to eight years of elementary and secondary school before he entered an apprenticeship in repoussé metalwork from 1902 through 1906. He continued working for this firm, first as a craftsman, then as a designer until 1914.
During this same time period Gies attended the City Crafts School (1906-1908) where he learned sculpture and architectural drawing. Additionally, he attended the College of Arts and Crafts from 1908-1910 where he studied under sculptor Heinrich Waderé and medallist Maxmilian Dasio. In 1910 he began sculptural studies at the Bavarian Academy of Arts whereby all of his previous studies culminated in Gies’ mastery of craftsmanship, technical skill, and understanding of form and material.
Ludwig Gies’ works can be placed into three distinct artistic phases. First, the Munich Years from 1910-1918, second, his Expressionistic period of 1918-1930 in Berlin and, finally, his Intaglio Period from 1930-1966 in Berlin and Cologne where he died on January 27, 1966.
The Munich artistic environment provided fertile ground for aspiring artists of various mediums. Art organizations such as the Bavarian Association of Arts & Crafts and United Workshops for Arts & Crafts provided lectures, journals (Kunst & Handwerk), and exhibitions steeped in Bavarian traditionalism. Most importantly, there was no distinction made between applied and fine arts. Leading artists, craftsmen, and manufacturers collaborated closely in the design and production of arts and crafts objects such as bowls, vases, lamps, and other utensils. This collaboration gave rise to a local version of art nouveau heavily influenced by traditional styles that exhibited more ponderous than buoyant forms of design, emphasized the specific qualities of the production materials, and relied heavily on the craft quality of the workmanship. These same principles were applied toward the design and creation of the modern cast art medal in Munich.
Ludwig Gies created approximately 150 WWI medal designs between 1913-1918. He became known and admired for his ability to create monumentality in the smallest of spaces.
You will never see Ludwig Gies glorifying a battle nor memorializing someone in the patriotic spirit of sacrifice. These convictions marked him early in his career and the war as a defeatist in the eyes of authority.
Gies loved to make up stories and he knew how to do this through his medals. He doesn’t record the historic events as a matter-of-fact but rather, he is intentionally ambiguous. You will see that he avoids any deliberate, identifiable, visual clues (uniforms, coats-of-arms, text) that might in anyway inject objective historicism. In this way, the image itself becomes an allegory of war. At the same time, and with the help of little non-obtrusive hints, he inspires the observer to use their imagination to form their own opinion about war. The liveliness and innovate style of Ludwig Gies you are about to view, serves this goal well. Enjoy!
Ernsting, Bernd. Ludwig Gies; Meister des kleinreliefs. Cologne: LETTER Schriften, 1995.
Ernsting, Bernd. "Ludwig Gies; The Munich Years." The Medal 13 (1988): 59-72.
Gies, Ludwig. "Kreigsmedaillien und-Schmuckstück." Die Plastik H 6 (1916).
Jones, Mark. The Art of the Medal. London: British Museum Publications Ltd., 1979.
Jones, Mark. The Dance of Death: Medallic Art of the First World War. London: British Museum Publications Ltd., 1979.
La Guerre Européene. Médailles, Monnaies de Necessite, Papiers-Monnaié, Insignes Destinctifs des Régiments: Lagerkatalog 70. J. Schulman, Amsterdam, 3/1918.
|Copyright © 2003-2010 KarlGoetz.com All Rights Reserved|