Priska von Martin

Somnia, 1963

About the object

Priska von Martin (1912–1982) titled this small-format abstract bronze sculpture Somnia: the Latin term for dream or sleep is also the name for the embodiment of dreams, of dreaming, in Greco-Roman mythology. The surface of the figure is rough, uneven, unworked, traces of the casting are visible. Despite its small format, however, the composition appears powerful, sublime. Standing firmly on the ground, it simultaneously rises, stretches, bifurcates and reaches out into the surrounding space. Throughout her life, Priska von Martin suffered from depression, which repeatedly forced her to take breaks from her creative work, sometimes lasting several years at a time. Her abstract phase at the beginning of the 1960s – a classification of her oeuvre made by von Martin at the end of her life – was also followed by a hiatus of this kind. She made notes in her diaries on some of her dreams, in which imprisonment and liberation played a role. It is quite possible that the title of the abstract figure is a reference to inner strife von Martin had to cope with, and not only at night.

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