Cubes as Symbol

In 2020, the Grassimesse celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding in Leipzig. The fair’s successful history, which underwent many changes due to the circumstances of the times, is primarily characterized by a commitment to the principle of quality as the criterion for selection in the applied arts and design.

A glance at the list of the Grassimesse’s exhibitors reveals that from the very beginning two groups of participating artists crystallized and mutually complemented each other. The one group includes those who are inspired by new ideas, who exhibit only once or only briefly or occasionally, and who innovatively enrich the overall picture. The other group is composed of artists who remain lastingly associated with the fair because their creative achievements repeatedly convince its critically strict and annually new juries.

Ulla and Martin Kaufmann belong to this latter group. Their stand has distinguished itself as a supporting pillar of the Grassimesse ever since the fair was re-established in 1997. This clearly speaks for the quality of their work and their continuously growing design ideas, whose power almost timelessly transcends modish currents, yet never lose their modernity.

The high esteem in which our museum holds Ulla and Martin Kaufmann’s oeuvre is expressed by the longstanding integration of their works into our permanent exhibition, where the constellation of showcases recently gained new accents thanks to a generous donation by Lotte Reimers, as well as in general through works by the Kaufmanns which the museum has added to its collection.

When the question arose as to what contribution we could make – in concentrated form and in a small space – to the Grassimesse’s anniversary, Ulla and Martin Kaufmann naturally came to mind for the abovementioned reasons.

We have long been enthusiastic about their cube variations. Although every cube is rigorously determined by its six surfaces, eight corners and twelve edges, the Kaufmanns nonetheless continually devise new and undreamt-of solutions to open the cube, transform it into a container or simply make it appear as a symbol of inexhaustible creative power. Such seemingly astonishing minimalism, however, can be achieved only by mastery of material and technique coupled with intellectual penetration of the form per se.

In this respect, the Kaufmanns’ cubes can also serve as representatives of their entire oeuvre.