Sean Henry

(U.K.) *1950 in Woking, Surrey

Journeying back into time at the Roman fort of Saalburg – the best researched and most completely restored fort at the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Limes – the visitor to “Blickachsen 10” will also encounter two painted bronze sculptures by Sean Henry. In the great hall of the principia, the headquarters building, stands Henry’s smaller than life-size “Man with Cup” on a specially-made plinth by the wall, fitting in inconspicuously and forming a row with the two Roman statues on permanent display here. In his blue business suit, holding a take-away coffee cup in his hand, he exemplifies today’s army of city office workers – and steers the visitor’s attention from provincial Roman history and life on the Limes towards the conditions of everyday life in the present. On the square in front of the principia, on the other hand, “Trajan’s Shadow” sparks a dialogue between past and present. Like a figure on a stage, a modern, casually dressed man with his hands in his pockets is framed by a great rectangular gateway – an exact scale replica of one of the many entrances to emperor Trajan’s market in ancient Rome.

The Hessenpark Open-Air Museum – in which over a hundred historical buildings give an insight into the history of everyday life in Hesse – has this year for the first time been included as a location for “Blickachsen”. Three larger-than-life figures by the British sculptor Sean Henry are exhibited in the museum’s marketplace: “Catafalque”, “Seated Man” and “Standing Man”. Additionally, a number of smaller sculptures and drawings by this renowned artist are on display in an accompanying exhibition. Sean Henry’s painted ceramic and bronze sculptures depict human figures in contemporary clothing – often anonymous and always presented as either larger or smaller than life-size. This change of scale breeds intimacy − the sculptures exist alongside us, but go beyond the narrow limits of simply imitating life through subtle changes to scale, colour and material: “In creating sculpture”, the artist emphasizes, “it is the inner life of the people I choose as my models that interests me, rather than their extrinsic details.” In the Hessenpark, Henry’s figures now form a bridge between the history of daily life in Hesse and the here and now of the visitor.