Study: Wissinger Tomb Furnace / Orchard

64 in. x 40 in. pastel and paint on photo collage, 1990.

Study for a subterranean furnace in the form of a crystalline tomb structure designed by the German Expressionist architect Max Taut beneath a living orchard.

Study: Wissinger Tomb Furnace/Orchard, 1990, is one of a series of conceptual proposals for environmental kiln/furnace art works. This series of proposals extend the landscape and geologic themes investigated in a concurrent group of actual kiln/furnace projects done in the landscape from 1979 to 1992. Study: Wissinger Tomb Furnace/Orchard, explores issues of spiritual and personal history of the artist, in particular his family history as the great-grandson of German immigrant farmers who settled in the Pacific Northwest.

The image of the Wissinger tomb as an underground furnace comes from an actual crypt of a German family visited by the artist in a graveyard in Stahndsdorf, Germany. This tomb, a complex crystalline structure that emphasizes spiritual values of inorganic form, was designed by Max Taut, a noted German Expressionist architect of the 1920’s. The flues of the furnace extend upward, hypothetically through a fruit orchard, symbolic of the crops grown by the artist’s family in both Europe and North America.

John Roloff, 1997