Art-in-architecture in the Erfurt University Library

Order and freedom

Kunst am Bau

The red tubes that seem to float in the air are an eye-catcher in the library. They are the work of the artist Dietrich Förster, who since 1990 has devoted himself mainly to Arts in public spaces with sculptures and installations.
He gave his room installation in the Erfurt University Library the title ORDNUNG UND FREIHEIT.

In 1999, an open, anonymous artists' competition was held for the "Arts on the Building" of the new library building, in which Dietrich Förster's design took first place out of 53 participants. The room installation was ready for the opening in 2000: 100 aluminium tubes with a red powder coating on stainless steel cables, suspended in the central air space of the library. In keeping with the surrounding architecture, the installation is based on a geometric grid. At the same time, it contains a dynamic that the artist describes thus:

"In the arrangement of the tubes, the grid undergoes a further development up to its dissolution.
The sculpture can be read as a metaphor for progress:
Scientific progress becomes possible when it is possible to leave the foundation of lawfully recorded order in order to move in a kind of creative flight of fancy into as yet unknown terrain, without losing the reference to what has gone before."

Telephone directory Erfurt (in colours)

Telefonbuch_Treppenhaus UB Erfurt, 2. OG

The colourful design in the internal staircase of the university library began with the exhibition "The Ironic Turn. Canadian Contemporary Arts" at the Kunsthalle Erfurt in the summer of 2003, which featured works by artist Garry Neill Kennedy (1935-2021), among others.

Kennedy wanted to artistically relate the two twin cities of Erfurt and Shawnee.
He achieved this with the use and pictorial representation of names from the telephone directories of both cities, which bear a colour-based name, e.g. Brown (Braun), White (Weiß) or Black (Schwarz).
As background for the monochrome paintings, colours were used that have historically and to this day great significance for both cities: for Erfurt the woad blue and for Shawnee a certain red.

There are 39 paintings for Erfurt, i.e. 39 colour names of a total of about 800 inhabitants in Erfurt. The largest is 164 cm long and represents the colour name Braun (115 name entries).
The presentation for Erfurt was given to the University of Erfurt after the exhibition ended. Kennedy rearranged it in the stairwell of the university library.

Quid prodest ... si nihil audes

Inschrift, Durchlaufschutz UB Erfurt

The "endless" inscription on the glass walls in the library is purely formally a so-called passage protection. A creative librarian had the idea of transforming this necessary security element into a "banner" that makes you think. They are Latin verses by Notker Balbulus from the 9th century:

Quid prodest temet studiis librorum
tam brevis vitae morulas dicasse
corpus ac fractum macerasse tantum,
si nihil audes

Translated, this means:
"What good is it that you have devoted the short time of your life to the study of books and have weakened your feeble body so much, if you dare nothing?"