Simplicity is not a goal said Brancusi, but one arrives at simplicity in spite of oneself as on approaches the real meaning of things. In the sculpture of Klaus Steinbrenner we find exemplified in the most rewarding way that process of which Brancusi spoke, that search for underlying reality, that stripping away of all that is not needed, until we arrive at that heart of the matter which is art.
Steinbrenner takes for his use the most basic elements at the disposal of the artist: the vertical, the horizontal, the flat plane which, in the three dimensional world of the sculptor, becomes the cube. He takes the simplest of materials: Indiana limestone. elmwood, pine, walnut, and deals with it in the most direct way – carving, or if seer size and weight dictate, constructing his cubes, meticulously cutting and fitting each side, until his statement is made. It is an art of deceptive simplicity, pleasing, compelling and immediate when first confronted, then revealing to the persevering eye riches of an unsuspected depth and complexity which continue to unfold for as long as we care to seek them. This continuing revelation of pleasure is one of the greatest and rarest joys art has to offer.
Within the tradition of geometric abstraction, which is almost as old as this century, and particular the sculpture of that tradition, Steinbrenner’s work displays a unique concern with the beginnings, the primal form in his first stage of his work … what he calls the block. While most sculpture of this persuasion might be described as additive, i.e., built up bit by bit – even that in which the material is carved away to reveal the final form – Steinbrenner sees his work as something quite different. He sees it not as a process of moving into the block but as a process of taking away, taking from it in a way which opens it, but keeps the integrity of the block always. The sides of the block are always there, closed, whole, real. And there is the crux of it, the sense on has of beginnings and endings endlessly revealed, the whole and its parts the real meaning of things.
Oscar Amberson