The first time we saw an exhibition of Julia Mangold's work was at the Galerie Tanit in Munich in 1999. We acquired this sculpture at the Art Basel fair, where (on the stand) other sculptures by her were exhibited. The forms adopted by the German artist, who was just over thirty at the time, immediately recall American minimalist art, but on closer examination, and with the help of basic documentation, her investigation in another direction seems prevalent, one favouring meticulous attention to the art object in its material qualities, and a long, patient path to the production of the same.
In a laborious process for a woman as slight as she, Julia Mangold personally constructs parallelepipeds of different sizes in steel, which she combines in groups of two, three or four at most, arranging them on the wall or more often on the ground. The distances and the differences in size and depth between the steel blocks constitute the central element of the work. Subtle and sophisticated variations of emptiness and fullness, studied volumetric differences, indicate in the work the final search for balance and harmony.
The size and weight of the individual parts of each sculpture are determined by the physical strength of the artist, in moving and manipulating the hard metal. I mentioned a long and patient production process: because after having cut the square or rectangular surfaces, often combined to form closed containers like mysterious boxes, the artist cleans and polishes the steel (finely honing the edges of the sheets), she then treats the metal with acid and, lastly, she coats it with successive layers of wax. In this way, the "weight" of the metal is hidden by the chromatic treatment of the surfaces, which appear "veiled", endowed with a lightness that seems to vibrate at the reflecting of the change of light in the space, as well as the different observation point of the viewer, who remains almost mesmerised by the semi-opaque harmony of the sculptural group "to hand".
A final note: the certificate consists of an extremely detailed drawing of the work, indicating the precise day on which Mangold completed the work.