South African born artist and painter Marlene Dumas has been commissioned to paint an altarpiece for an 18th-century church in Dresden. The new altarpiece, which is due to be completed by the end of 2016, will replace a fresco of the Conversion of St Paul that was painted by Osmar Schindler on the walls of St Anne’s Church in Freiberger Platz in 1910.
But the artist admits to being “scared” by the prospect, not least because the new work will hang “very high up on the wall” Thw original work by Schindler was Badly damaged during the Second World War. St. Anne’s Church (German Die Annenkirche) was named in honour of the patron saint of Anne of Denmark, Electress of Saxony. The original 1578 church was destroyed by Prussian troops in 1760 during the Seven Years’ War, after which a new church was opened in 1769.
But the fresco by Schindler steadily deteriorated in the years after the Second World War and has now virtually disappeared. “They are giving me a lot of freedom. I can choose the form. The theme is also open,” Dumas tells The Art Newspaper. “The only ‘restriction’ is that [my painting] should not be too depressing. It should offer some hope,” the Amsterdam-based artist says.
The artist is planning a work on multiple canvases “to work with a structure of fragmentation… like a tree of life with different images on oval or round panels, hanging from its branches”. The piece will explore “different creation myths through the ages—how different cultures imagined how the world came to be and how the human condition is represented”, Dumas added.
Osmar Schindler was a German painter belonging to the Dresden Academy school of artists, he was also appointed professor of the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, where he led the Modellierklasse and counted George Grosz, Karl Hanusch, Bernhard Kretzschmar and Paul Wilhelm as his students as well as discovering Hanns Georgi. The artist’s works were considered a mixture of impressionism and Art Nouveau. He died on June 19, 1927, and was buried at Loschwitz Cemetery.