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by Roberta Carasso

(Marion Meyer Contemporary Art, Orange County) German sculptor Franz Leinfelder is intrigued with objects developed by human beings. In particular he addresses how their shape and material--based on structure and functionality--yield a particular design, and how the design is passed down through generations to become part of the visual psyche. With an archeol-ogist's precision and an artist's eye, Leinfelder selects ordinary objects, often tools, which have a connection to societal history. They are assembled into elegant wall structures Leinfelder calls Relief-Collages. With great sensitivity, the artist transforms a common object, such as an oar, clothespin, or saw blade, into a work of art. He does this by seeing each object anew, as if it were a recently found specimen from an extinct civilization. Leinfelder rethinks its shape, material, and design, situating the object within an abstract composition of mixed substances, of varying materials--textures and surfaces--and colors.

The art works, composed from about 1989 to 1998, are a blend of earthiness and intelligence. They are also masculine in tone, as industrial materials like raw wood, metals, glass, old paint brushes, nails, dowels, and fencing, whatever raw material strikes the artist's fancy predominate. Leinfelder, an engineer by profession, collects a variety of objects, and with a keen eye composes wall structures from these materials in the most inventive way. Each composition conveys the thoughtfulness with which Leinfelder creates. Each work is finished by being connected to a wooden board, piece of slate, tabletop, or any other discarded but sturdy surface.

"Untitled," 45 x 35", 1996.


"Untitled," 26 x 20", 2000.


"Untitled," 26 x 35", 2000.

Unfortunately, Leinfelder does not title his work, nor give them numbers. Therefore it is necessary to identify each piece by describing its content. In one wall relief, Leinfelder lays out at the upper portion, in a deliberate vertical fashion, strips of dyed green and blue wood. This orderly pattern is contrasted at the bottom portion with a more chaotic and energetic arrangement of undulating blue cylindrical tubing, sheltered in pieces of wood scattered below. Another work is made from large paint brushes, entirely painted black, where each hair sweeps across the structure diagonally as if they were finely drawn lines. Leinfelder accents the composition with clusters of black and tan shiny bearings that add a staccato motion to the work as adjacent old wood fragments dance about them in all directions.

Of special note is Leinfelder's creation of the Ten Miniatures Portfolio, a small selection of graphic work on paper. Here the artist presents ten silk-screens that are then hand worked, with paint and ink, giving each an individual look. Each group of ten drawings is placed in a specially created wooden box. The drawings, like Leinfelder's collages, are sensitively executed with much creativity and invention.