New sculptures in public spaces

by Carla Schulz-Hoffmann, 2007

In the work of Gabriela von Habsburg sculpture in public places takes centre stage. Shaped by diverse, inter-relating approaches, free from hollow pathos and grand gestures, those concepts that are of special importance to the artist are concentrated on this task: clarity of composition and lightness of form, relatedness to place and theme, the power of communication, but equally open­ness and transparency in both the strictly material sense and also figuratively. Gabriela von Habsburg shares modern art’s reserva­tions about using large form just for the sake of it and mistrusts all that is over-theatrical. Nevertheless, her most impressive works assert themselves with ease in freely accessible outdoor settings and shape their surroundings. This is not, as it may appear, a contradiction in terms, since the sculptures reject any notion of hollow monumentality despite their often monumental dimensions. This is due to the restrained, frequently fragile application of the material. Particularly in places where the artist herself has had a say in where the artwork will stand, the sculpture is not a furnishing or foreign body but enters into a relationship with its surroundings without humbling itself.

Sculpture in public spaces is not understood as a monument in the traditional sense of a memorial to some historical event or personal greatness. Nor is it abstract sculpture as an autonomous