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
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.
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.
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 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.
“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.
The Cuckoo Clock Sculptures
The sculptures vary in scale:
And some of them are ‘streaking’ as in “Time Flies”:
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:
Cuckoo Clock Silkscreens:
Then they began appearing on other objects and in collaborations.
MCM x Stefan 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.
Other collaborative partners included Karl Lagerfeld, who is a huge fan:
New York Times Style Magazine:
Ralph Lauren (as mentioned earlier in this post).
Prints available at https://www.galerie-schrade.de/kuenstler/strumbel-stefan/werke/
image sources for this post: