Gunnar Theel works in metal sculpture ranging from smaller pieces to monumental outdoor works. One of his sculptures, Dial, is currently on view in MOCA's exhibition Of Many Ancestors, which highlights works from the permanent collection by twenty-six artists who either lived and worked in the United States or emigrated here and became citizens. I had the great pleasure of speaking with Mr. Theel to learn more about his work and influences.
Initially trained in painting and lithography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Gunnar Theel emigrated to the U.S. and taught himself how to weld. Since 1986, Theel has been creating sculpture often inspired by architecture including the Bauhaus Design Movement of the early twentieth-century. His works are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the James A. Michener Art Museum in Pennsylvania, and the National Museum Archives for the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C.
Tell us about your background and interest in art.
I was born in Germany, and I studied painting and lithography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 1968, I relocated to the United States of America, and in 1973 I began to work again in painting and drawing. In 1986, I trained myself as a welder and sculptor of abstract metal sculptures. My small to large sculptures have been exhibited in the U.S. and are part of private and public collections here and abroad.
What are some of your artistic influences?
My art is influenced by the economy of Bauhaus architecture. The right angle in the physical world, and its inherent sensations of equilibrium and quiet are my reference points as I work towards the finished sculpture. I approach my work with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in mind; he advocated for “simplification of design and refinement of proportions.”