A Declaration of Love…

Text: Paulina Tsvetanova

When I was 17 years, a love took hold of me that enriches my life to this day. At that time, I arrived in the city of Calais toting a heavily-packed backpack. I decided to take a quick walk down the canal to Dover. When I suddenly recovered from the sight of Rodin’s sculpture “The Citizens of Calais”, I forgot all of my cares. The sculptural figures, with all of their dramatic variety, touched me as no other work of art had touched me before. It was love for sculpture at first sight. But even then I was immediately aware of a problem: it was clearly too big for the living room!

Chiemseetour Ralf Kirberg 4

Ralf Kirberg on the sculpture network’s Chiemsee tour

What may sound funny here is a serious obstacle to the reception of sculpture. Sculpture is usually experienced only in the public space, on a monumental scale. After this first intense encounter, it still took me 18 years to acquire my first sculpture in 1974. While we grow up with pictures on the walls, the works of the sculptors are rather remote. It is not so easy to find our way to sculpture. We want to help people discover it.

Im Gespräch mit Hartmut Stielow (links)

In conversation with Hartmut Stielow (left)


The idea for sculpture network stemmed from a rather random encounter with the sculptor Hartmut Stielow in 2003. At the time, he was enthusiastic about an idea for a network that he had encountered in the USA. At that point, the various circles in sculpture still mostly circulated among themselves: on the one hand the artists, on the other the art lovers, here the gallery owners, there the museums – and these groups were also split up along national and regional boundaries. So we had the idea to build a network to bring these different people into contact.

So, from this harmless visit to Hartmut Stielow’s studio came a kind of Rütlischwur, which, as in the old myth, marked the foundation of a society of sorts. From this moment on, we had a common goal: to support of the idea of three-dimensional art across these conventional borders. We would like to inspire interest, understanding and hopefully also love for these artists’ works.

Alberto Bañuelos

Stunning – Admiring – Looking at the exhibition of Alberto Bañuelos

Love at first sight is really a one-time thing. Often my passion for a work of art comes only with the story behind it. I therefore always encourage all friends of art to seek out dialogue with the artist. This refinement of judgment and sharpening of the eye is a joyful process which and facilitates a thoughtful, authentic way of collecting art.

This idea also links us to sculpture network and is always present in our encounters. This is particularly evident at our international meetings, where language barriers are easily overcome by common interests and convictions. And I look confidently at the further course of a love story, which will hopefully inspire passion in many places.

By Ralf Kirberg, founder and first chairman of the board of sculpture network NGO

Ralf und Hildburg

Collectors Ralf and Hildburg Kirberg