Olle Baertling born 1911 [- 1981]
Inscribed 'Bærtling | 1957 | KERO | H256 | in 3 parts' on under-side of base
Welded iron, 102 1/2 x 18 3/4 x 17 (260.3 x 47.6 x 43.2)
Presented by Mrs Birgit Silfverhjelm 1966
Prov: Mrs Birgit Silfverhjelm, Stockholm (from the artist 1960)
Exh: Olle Bærtling, Galerie Samlaren, Stockholm, 1957 (no catalogue traced); Olle Bærtling, open-air exhibition in the Nybroplan, Stockholm, 1957-8 (no catalogue traced); 10 Schwedische Künstler 1961, Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, 1961 (not in catalogue); Olle Bærtling, Galerie Denise René, Paris, March-April 1962 (not in catalogue); Form i Förvandling, Riksförbundet for Bildande Konst travelling exhibition, Sweden, 1964-5 (6)
Repr: Teddy Brunius, Oscar Reutersværd, Bo Wennberg, Bærtling (Stockholm 1961), p.70; Oscar Reutersværd, Bærtling: Creator of Open Form (Stockholm-New York 1966), p.8
His earliest sculptures were his 'Spires' executed in 1953-4. These were made from iron bands twisted into tube-like vertically rising spirals which at the top stuck out to form a sort of oblique pennant. They could be made to sway by the wind or some other external influence and were, like all his sculptures, projects for monumental works of colossal size for open squares and parks.
They were followed in 1956 by sculptures with triangular forms, in which 'the active power is no longer visible, it has merged into the metal itself, lying there like an internal centre of tension ...
'Like the "triangles" in the paintings the angle fields are mathematically measurable only as far as they are decided and limited by the actual line-play of the steel - thus transcending into spaces the outlines of which can only be calculated by the imagination.
'This immaterialization tendency and extension to infinity one can follow up in e.g. the sculptures from 1956 "Kereb" and "Kerebk" which built on solid black iron "triangles" grasping a space-mass with their angle-forms, analogous to the paintings "Karun" and "Assuan" from the preceding year.
'The next step is "Kerak" and "Kerabk", both from 1957, where only one of the solid "triangles" was left - the others had evaporated and were now hovering like ethereal angled units, limited and directed by the outlines of the steel.
'"Kerak" and "Kerabk" are closely related to and correspond with a series of simultaneous paintings like e.g. "Odi 1957", 97 x 195cm, and "Odir 1957", 97 x 195cm, Galerie Denise René, Paris.
'"Kero 1957", The Tate Gallery, London, was the first sculpture where I, so to say, wholly freed the sculpture from physical extension and materia.
'The idea of a complete denaturalization of the material body of the sculpture, an immaterialization of its physical structure, had long been of central interest to me.
'The steel bars of "Kero" function as power-lines which free and dirigate the powers in the surrounding space. The sculpture functions as a power centre that creates and radiates its powers and at the same time it works as a receiver of these powers. The steel bars are the border-lines for formations of divided and directed light that is formed and transformed, constantly seething from dynamic powers.
'A power-play is opened and creates a multidimensionality of movement - open forms in strong dynamic movement.
'The sculpture unites itself with the surrounding space - does not exist like a form against space. The steel bars are in abstract meaning not limited but continue towards infinite space. The small oscillations in the steel lines and the mutual play of the angles and the bars is the technical construction for this plastic language ...
'All my subsequent sculptures build upon and develop these very ideas.'
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.25-7, reproduced p.25