A Forest of Sculptures

Simon Spierer`s collection
June 26- September 7, 2008

The National Gallery for Foreign Art hosted the unique exhibition A Forest of Sculptures under the patronage of prof. Stefan Danailov, Minister of culture.

The collection comprises 39 sculptures from most distinguished and famous European artists. Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, Cezar, Michael Croissant, Max Ernst, Kenneth Armitage are just some of the artists, whose works - masterpieces of modern art of the 20th century were exhibited, as well as one painting by Andy Warhol – a portrait of Simon Spierer.

The “Forest of Sculptures” is a collection of Simon Spierer, a Swiss businessman, well known as a connaisseur of arts. He started collecting the sculptures in 1980 and in 1994 he donated them to the Landes Museum in Darmstadt, which is presently undergoing a reconstruction. This is the reason the collection started its tour in the world. The sculptures arrived in the National Gallery for Foreign art from Athens, where they were exhibited with great success. After Sofia they will continue their tour to Romania and Asia.

The visitors could admire the unique masterpieces of art in the New Hall of the Gallery which, with its freshness and cool air gives a real atmosphere and feeling of a magic forest of sculptures.

The exhibition visited our country thanks to Dr. Otto Letze , director of the Institute for Cultural Exchange in Tubingen, Germany. In 2007 he organized in Bulgaria the exhibition “Leonardo Da Vinchi – Scientist and Inventor”. For a period of three months the exhibition attracted thousands of visitors.


For millennia on end sculpture has been a major/primary medium of artistic expression. Long before the beginnings of recorded history, early civilizations used sculpture to image and document the world in which they existed. By means of sculpture they recorded human events and natural phenomena and symbolized the earliest notions of society, beliefs and mores. Sculpture, as a tangible whole of mass and space, was the first universally recognized form of art preceding the aesthetic acceptance of all other modes of visual representation. An old-aged, instinctive and powerful human activity, it is also one of the most perfect and complete modes of artistically re-creating the visible world in its ideal aspects.

Sculpture is a conservative art. From the Venus of Willendorf down to the present day, the paramount theme, subject or subject matter of this art has been the human body with all the rich manifestations of its forms. As a rule its concrete, material representation suggests directly the contents of the artistic piece, yet the closeness of sculptural form to nature, to the visible aspect of natural shapes is not in itself a token of artistic imagery. It can be an imitative, objectivistic copy of the human likeness devoid of the creator’s passionate effort to penetrate, beyond the merely visual, the essence of things. Already Socrates has affirmed that the sculptor must express the state of the soul. From such a perspective, the subjectively sought de-formation may prove to be a more authentic indicator of a ‘will to form’ or the creative re-discovery of living forms.

In its look, its outward appearance sculpture is a dynamic phenomenon. The dramatic changes in the evolution of plastic form were ushered in by the introduction of new systems of canons and proportions or new architectural styles, as well as the adoption of new materials or media out of which sculptures were modeled, carved, molded, cast, wrought, welded, hewn, sewn, assembled, or otherwise substantially shaped. Each successive change has led to a shift in the visual organization. Sculpture gradually interpenetrated and mobilized the environment transforming the light and shade, the texture and movement into components of form, with the plastic object reducing itself to the core of an integrally organized space entity of air and light. Increasingly sign-like, minimalistic, generalized or purely abstract, kinetic or static, in the course of last century sculpture has arrived at a new understanding of three-dimensional imagery.

Simple and closest to the forms of reality as it may seem at first sight, sculpture is an art form not easy of comprehension. It lacks the element of unfolding story-telling or the direct reference to the colourfulness of the optically familiar world that could make its contemplation easier for the spectator. In itself being a visible, material, and real object, it is an ideal image as well. An image - fusing mass, sign and space into a distinctive whole. The art of sculpture represents a complex challenge – appealing both to abstract reason and the imagination, the sensitiveness of the artist and his ability of orchestrating the perceptions.

Also complex and meandering is the spectator’s approach to it – as is the case with the present exhibition, which is leading us to uncharted zones, branching into familiar and exotic directions, moving past strange idols, metamorphoses and magical signs in this Forest of Sculptures, imagined and realized by an extraordinary collector.

Irina Moutafchieva
Director, National Gallery for Foreign Art

Sponsor of the exhibition