Struggle: the life and lost art of Szukalski


Netflix 2018. Trailer via YouTube.

This is a documentary made by two people who discovered Szukalski’s art then found that he lived almost nearby and went on the trail of the man and his work. What they found was both stunning and disturbing; massive bronzes reminiscent of the landscape of the 1920s film Metropolis – overwhelmingly solid and diminishing of human scale; a driven man with an extraordinary background that included idiosyncratic lettering and symbols in his writing; and a disturbing involvement with the Nazi movement. Most of his art work was lost in WWII and he seemed forever in search of the recognition and the status he felt he deserved. To see him in this documentary is likely to leave most people with a feeling that he was a strange character, and as a psychologist, I can’t help placing him somewhere on the autistic spectrum in view of his manner, obsessions, idiosyncrasies, speech patterns, and many other characteristics. There’s no doubt that his art was powerful and imposing and that it arose from his perspectives on the life he was living. Much of it is alarmingly aggressive. Struggle is one of his surviving pieces, a brass rictus of a hand forever cramped in a dreadful grasp at nothing.

Szukalski died in 1987, this link to his site provides a glimpse at a stainless steel mould from the brass original https://www.szukalski.com/shop/struggle/.

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