Carlfriedrich Claus

born in the town of Annaberg in 1930, died in Chemnitz in 1998.

Claus was forced into ‘inner emigration’ in the former GDR. Just before his death, he was able to oversee the installation of his work Aurora Experimental Space in front of the Members’ lobby at the same height as the visitors’ level. Claus evolved a form of art in which he noted thoughts derived from the cabbala, other forms of mysticism and Marxist philosophy on both sides of pieces of parchment and sheets of glass. The writing contracts and overlaps to form ‘inscribed shapes’, forms with the character of both writing and visual imagery. These ‘language sheets’ sometimes embody philosophical thought processes, as when the artist writes a thesis with his right hand on the obverse of a piece of parchment, its antithesis with his left hand on the reverse and both unite in a synthesis when the sheet is viewed against the light.

For the installation in the Reichstag Building, Claus enlarged he works on paper in his Aurora series to form images on photographic film, which he mounted on acrylic panels and suspended in space. (Facsimiles of the original Aurora pieces are on display in a glass case on the plenary level.) He thus increased the visual interaction among the images: individual panels overlap as many as six times as the viewer moves. Although a convinced Communist, Claus antagonized the GDR authorities by adhering resolutely to a mystically utopian form of the ideology that was incompatible with the dogmatic orthodox Marxism propagated by the regime.

In Aurora Experimental Space, which was intended to announce the dawn of his utopia, he expressed his longing for the ‘abolition of alienation from oneself, the world and other people’. Transferred to panels, the ‘scriptural poetry’ that resulted from the artist’s philosophical musings and poetic imaginings took on concrete form as symbols in space. In this way, Claus forged an intensely personal synthesis of poetry, philosophy, mysticism and calligraphy.