In August 2017, a donation of seven drawings dated from 1956 to 1968 enhanced the personal papers of Arnold Bode held at the documenta archiv. Initially they originated from the part of Arnold Bode’s person papers that was in possession of his wife, and after that were part of a private collection for a long time.


The sketch presented here shows two highly abstracted figures of the Fountain of Lions of the Alhambra in Granada. A sitting lion whose body is outlined with just a few lines occupies the foreground of the image. Two rows of slightly curved lines stylize a thick mane. Water is gushing out of his mouth. The second gargoyle is a noticeable smaller lion lying in the background. A diagonal line crosses the picture from bottom left to top right and represents the water basin connecting the two figurines. A horizontal line at the top of the sketch gives a glimpse of further arms of the course the water takes at the Court of the Lions.


Throughout his entire life Arnold Bode captured his ideas and impressions in drawings and sketches. Contemporaries such as Lothar Orzechowski described him as a tireless draughtsman whose “ideas and visions escalated in sketches.” He even used napkins at the coffee-house Däche or the receipt book at his favorite bar to draw. Admittedly even his friends knew only of a few of is powerful works. At exhibitions he predominately showed his paintings and prints. Especially at the end of his life drawing became Bode’s favorite way to express himself. Between 1963 and 1976 there are only four paintings known to be created by him.


This sketch probably was drawn during one of the many journeys Arnold Bode undertook. In the year after his state examination as drawing teacher marking the end of his painting and graphic art studies at the Academy of Art in Kassel, he visited the museums in Berlin and made a study trip to Paris and Bandol in southern France. Later on he traveled through Italy, Japan, Israel, Greece and the United States of Amerika to paint and draw. By visiting exhibitions and foreign museums he got to know different trends of contemporary art as well as the Old Masters and he made important international contacts.


Saskia Mattern