Willi Kissmer


The ephemeral piece of silk clinging to a lithe female form is the unmistakable hallmark of Willi Kissmer. The fabric that became a dominant motif in the artist’s work embraces the female figure creating the central theme in Kissmer’s oeuvre. A fabric so thin it seems wet is always tight to the skin and allows all the contours and curves of the body to appear. In ‘Im Roten Kleid” (The Red Dress) the fabric and body are fused into a harmonious whole.

Typically, only a portion of the head is visible, creating anonymity and timelessness. The focus is on the torso and the figure appears alone, without a background, establishing an aesthetic link to classical sculpture. Arms are only partly shown and hands not at all. These are characteristic even of the earliest figurative works, like ‘Kleiner Halbakt” (Small Half Nude) and continue to be central to his style.

The artist is much more interested in the partially clothed female than in the complete nude. The full nude for him is not demanding enough. For Kissmer it is a combination of flesh and fabric that form the core of his aesthetic. He balances the texture of the female skin with the addition of cloth. Within the folds of fabric the force of gravity becomes visible: a force at once real and imaginative, full of poetic possibility. The draping and creases tell their own story of time and transition and create an unlimited variety of meditative landscapes for the viewer.