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Henry Moore Institute

Into the Light: the Art of Egon Altdorf

Into the Light: the Art of Egon Altdorf

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sculpture | woodcuts | glass design | poetry

Accompanies the exhibition Egon Altdorf at the Henry Moore Institute, 17 June – 26 November 2023.

It was as a prisoner of war, in his early twenties, that the artist Egon Altdorf (1922-2008) began to express himself through sculpture: a subversive act he described as 'making culture behind the barbed wire'. He lost his parents and home in Berlin during the war. Returning to Germany, he built a new life through a dedication to art that was innovative, spiritual and redemptive. Into the Light, the first English language study of Altdorf's work, illuminates the contribution of artists who reshaped postwar life yet remain under-represented in art history: the lost generation.

Altdorf had barely left art college in Mainz in 1952 when he won the Berlin Senate Prize in the Unknown Political Prisoner international sculpture competition. Travelling to London, to see his work exhibited at Tate, he met sculptors including Henry Moore, Geoffrey Clarke, Lynn Chadwick and Reg Butler: an experience that inspired his work to become increasingly abstract and symbolic. From this moment, Altdorf engaged with postwar modernism at the same time as developing a unique creative voice.

In ten interdisciplinary chapters, Into the Light explores Altdorf's sculpture, printmaking, glass design, and poetry – an oeuvre sustained by a spirituality that embraces different faiths, while giving particular focus to the Bible. Altdorf's many public commission include designs for the new synagogue in Wiesbaden (1966), now considered an outstanding example of postwar synagogue architecture.



Graham Ward – In the Wake of meaninglessness

Arie Hartog – Art of the Wirtschaftswunder

Chapter 1: Judith LeGrove – Egon Altdorf: The lines of life

Chapter 2 Deborah Lewer – The prodigal and the prophecy: Egon Altdorf's woodcuts and German art debates, c.1948-52

Chapter 3 Dorothea Schöne – Change and (re)reflection in the sculptural work of Egon Altdorf after 1945

Chapter 4 Judith LeGrove – a vital conversation: Egon Altdorf and British sculpture in the early post-war years

Chapter 5 Julia Kelly – Symbolism of the cosmos in Egon Altdorf's post-war sculpture

Chapter 6: Elaine Morley – Egon Altdorf and the transformative power of art: the postwar literary context

Chapter 7: Nicolette David – Beyond language: the relationship between art and poetry in Egon Altdorf's work

Chapter 8: David Jasper – The art of Egon Altdorf: Symbolisn and spirituality

Chapter 9: Ulrich Knufinke – Wiesbaden's new synagogue (1966) and its design by Egon Altdorf

Chapter 10: Judith LeGrove – Into the light: Egon Altdorf's memorials to the future

Felicitas Reutsch – Egon Altdorf: the art of inner renewal


Product details

Language: English
Binding: Hardcover
Length: 192 pages
Dimensions: 290 x 225mm (portrait)
Publisher: Sansom & Company (15 June 2023)

ISBN-10: 191567008X
ISBN-13: 978-1915670083

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