Maria, Quell des Lebens

Hans van Houwelingen


öffentlich zugänglich

Klopstockstraße 10, 80804 München

Marmorskulptur (Madonna mit Kind), Wasser

Maria, Quell des Lebens

The Dutch artist Hans van Houwelingen took this tragic contradiction involving past, present, and future and made it his own. His work for Petuelpark catapults a quote from art history into the present time. Near Barlachstrasse stands a replica of a fifteenth-century statue of the Virgin Mary; water flows from the stigmata on the palms of the child into the basin of a fountain, which also serves as an anachronistic-looking pedestal for the marble statue. Torn away from the context of Catholic piety in a baroque, Austrian church, this statue unexpectedly takes on a unique currency and modern sensibility in the unprotected, urban outdoors. This specific connection once again transforms it into a common symbol of human existence. Almost shyly, the pedestrian directly passes by the statue of Mary; the child in her arms appears to have been brought to life by the water flowing from its wounds; suddenly, it seems to become an actual interlocutor. Should the pedestrian stop now, kneel down, start praying? Perform a ridiculous-looking, intimate, private act under the eyes of everyone else in the city? Or could it also be the artist’s ironic reference to the so-called loss of values in Western societies, and to the petty lives revolving around the consumption of superficial consumer goods, in a place where the best-case scenario is that a statue of Mary and Jesus manages to serve as a tourist attraction?

But that’s not all: After the statue was set up in Petuelpark, Catholic, Protestant, and Greek Orthodox Christian clergy consecrated it, and so the 21st-century copy regained the function of its 15th-century original. The supposedly clear cutoff between the past and the present becomes blurred—a possible future perspective?

Maria, Quell des Lebens