Martin Willing

Martin Willing (* 1958 in Bocholt, Germany)
Radial sphere (Kugel, radial)
Edition 6/10
Duralumin, milled, cut, bent and pre-stressed, on adjustable aluminium plinth
height 42 cm, diametre 40 cm

catalogue raisonné no. 2013-03


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Sculptures by Martin Willing oscillate and vibrate in space. However, his art belies our expectations and our common concept of kinetic sculpture. The animation of his sculptures that exude elegance, poetry and at times also a humorous streak is not caused by an engine or based on hinges or joints. On the contrary it is their intrinsic property brought about by bending the metal against the gravitational pull that sets the spheres, cubes, rods and pyramids in motion.


With his kinetic sculptures Martin Willing, born 1958 in Bocholt, Germany, explores space and shape in their reciprocal conditionality. Willing shows us the transitory nature and volatility of space and shape. A touch by the hand or a subtle puff of air are sufficient to set a sphere, cone, cube or circle in motion. As if awakened to a different life the sculptures formed in solid geometric shapes alter their appearance. They swing, prance, sway, rotate, teeter, bounce and vibrate.

Each shape is associated with its own intrinsic movement, oscillating between its clearly defined geometric shape when in idle state and its elastically shifting shape when in expanding and fading motion.

It is when the geometric shapes are in swing and during the time span in which the motion builds up and fades away that one grasps the inherent value and meaning of these sculptures. Martin Willing is interested in the dramaturgy of movement that takes place in the cycle of expansion, slowdown and standstill.

In the past three decades Martin Willing created an extensive body of work that is unique in terms of its aesthetics and depth. The astonishing dynamics of his sculptures are born out of the swinging properties inherent to metals. The artist bends metal bands and rods against the directional force of gravity. Thereby the pre-stressed metal is freed to extend into space and perform movements by virtue of its intrinsic traits.

Pre-stressed against the gravitational pull the sculptures of Martin Willing unfold a fascinating, multi-faceted independent existence. One senses a closeness to processes that unfold instinctively or automatically like breathing or movements in nature such as dry leaves on the ground set into a rotating motion by a wind blow, or swaying cornfields or water waves and their movement sequences that are subject to the gravity of earth, obstacles in streams and the wind.


“From a fixed point I let a rod extend freely into space. I sense its sagging prompted by gravity, bend it [ ] upwards in the opposite direction until it breaks out into the direction that I want to lend to it  [ ]. Proceeding this way the rod stretches further and further, it commences to vibrate, gradually slows down, it swings.”

Martin Willing

Martin Willing. „Aufwinden – Pulsieren – Kreisen – Schlägeln – Taumeln – Wogen. Aus der kristallinen Struktur des Metalls heraus gekitzelt“, in: Peter Weber. Martin Willing. Ganzheit als Prinzip, Städtische Galerie Ada, Meiningen 2014, page 66