The Extraordinary Cuckoo Clocks of Stefan Strumbel.

stefan strumbel cuckoo clocks IIHIH

I always feel a little guilty when I write about an artist’s older work in lieu of their latest. And this post is laden with guilt. Great photo after photo of it. I’m talking about the fact that instead of featuring the über talented Stefan Strumbel’s latest bronze sculptures, I’m sharing with you his cuckoo clocks and related art which he created between 2005 – 2015.

Stefan Strumbel Cuckoo Clocks

stefan strumbel cuckoo clock

The German graffiti, pop-artist, set designer and sculptor primarily works with bronze now but it’s his modern artistic take on the traditional Black Forest clocks, from his home country, that still turn my head. Strumbel is a well-known contemporary artist and his cuckoo clocks have bridged the gap between pop art and pop culture. They’ve been featured in ad campaigns, fashion collaborations and the hippest of venues.

Artist Stefan Strumbel and one of his older Cuckoo Clocks
Stefan in front of one of his older Cuckoo Clocks
Recent bronze works by Stefan Strumbel
Recent bronze works by Stefan Strumbel

You may have seen some of these unusual cuckoo clocks on other art blogs over the years. I’ve been collecting images of them for almost five years and have more photos of his cuckoo clock street art, silkscreens and sculptures in one place than most.

Strumbel's 18m tall Cuckoo Clock installation on the entrance of Germany's Museum in Karlsruhe, 2012
Strumbel’s 18m tall Cuckoo Clock installation on the entrance of Germany’s Museum in Karlsruhe, 2012

The first time I ever heard of Stefan was back in 2010 when I wrote a post on Art Stars, a collaboration between various artists and Ralph Lauren’s Polo Jeans Co. At that time, Strumbel’s creation included one of his cuckoo clocks.

Stefan Strumbel for Ralph Lauren
Art Star No. 16, Home Sweet Home, 2010, Stefan Strumbel for Ralph Lauren

Stefan Strumbel was born and raised in a small city in southwestern Germany. Wrestling with the idea of “heimat” — a German word that translates loosely as homeland or regional identity — and how his art should reflect it, he decided to stop painting graffiti in 2005 and focus on cuckoo clocks instead.

contemporary german art

artworks by stefan strumbel

strumbel installation at the Museum entrance
close-up of the installation at the Museum entrance

“For so long, after Hitler, Germans haven’t been able or allowed to reclaim their heimat,” Mr. Strumbel told the New York Times back in 2010. “I wanted to ask the question, ‘What is heimat?’ and make it something fresh, ironic and dynamic.”

He continued “When I did graffiti, it was all about marking my territory,” he continued. “But then I started thinking that graffiti itself was more of a New York thing and that I should do something that was authentic to where I come from, the Black Forest.”

Taking one of the most symbolic icons of the Black Forest region – a cuckoo clock- Stefan began buying them from local stores and transforming them, with spray paint and wood, into street-art inspired art.

Based on the traditional models but adorned with grenades and handguns instead of rabbits and antlers, the clocks immediately garnered buzz.

stefan strumbel cuckoo clocks

The Cuckoo Clock Sculptures

cuckoo clock sculptures

strumbel heimat cuckoo IIHIH

cuckoo clock art

strumbel cuckoo clocks dark duo

heimat strumbel

wall clocks

stefan strumbel clock art

rock your heimat

contemporary german sculpture

custom cuckoo clocks

strumbel art

modern german cuckoo clocks

colorful cuckoo clocks

contemporary art

The sculptures vary in scale:
artist stefan strumbel

'Heimat Loves You' by German artist Stefan Strumbel
‘Heimat Loves You’ by German artist Stefan Strumbel, represented by the gallery Springman (Freiburg), is shown at the international art show Scope Basel, on the sports field Landhof in Basel, Switzerland, 12 June 2009. EPA/GEORGIOS KEFALAS |

And some of them are ‘streaking’ as in “Time Flies”:
time flies stefan strumbel

stefan strumbel art

cuckoo art

strumbel time flies art

He first showed the new clocks – along with other drawings and murals- at a solo exhibition in 2006, but it was the clocks that drew the most interest and completely sold out. Following that, Strumbel made an arrangement with Anton Schneider & Sons, a sixth-generation cuckoo-clock maker, to manufacture them.

In addition to the sculptural clocks, Strumbel also created street art, installations, illustrations and silkscreen prints of his cuckoo clocks.

Cuckoo Clock Street Art / Murals:
street murals

street art

Cuckoo Clock Silkscreens:
silkscreens cuckoo clocks stefan strumbel

Then they began appearing on other objects and in collaborations.


MCM x Stefan Strumbel
mcm x strumbel

Then came the wonderful MCM Spring/Summer 2015 Accessories Collection, a collaboration featuring Strumbel’s trademark Cuckoo Clock Graffiti motif embellished on the German brand’s iconic Visetos pattern leather goods. The 10-piece collection included a series of backpacks, pouches, tambourine bags and reversible shoppers.

heimat loves you collab with MCM

Other collaborative partners included Karl Lagerfeld, who is a huge fan:
karl lagerfeld stefan strumbel

New York Times Style Magazine:
NY Times Style magazine strumbel cuckoo clock

Warsteiner Beer:
strumbel warsteiner beer label

Ralph Lauren (as mentioned earlier in this post).

Prints available at

Stefan Strumbel

Stefan Strumbel on Instagram
@StefanStrumbel on Twitter

image sources for this post: