Sunday, April 7, 2013

On the sculpture trail: Claas Störtebeker bronze statue in Hamburg's HafenCity

Sculpture of handcuffed Claas Störtebecker (HafenCity, Hamburg)

Claas Störtebecker sculpture by Hans-Jörg Wagner, HafenCity, Hamburg, Germany Between 1390 and 1624 over six hundred sea pirates were executed by forces of the allied port cities in northern Europe, whose trading activities were frequently disturbed by robbery at sea. The symbol figure of sea piracy is Claas Störtebeker (also named Klaus Störtebeker and Nikolaus Storzenbecher). However, it is not known for sure if he really existed or was simply thought up to project all evil onto one central figure. The name “Störtebeker” means “a person gulping down [bucket-size] cups,” thus referring to somebody used to heavy drinking. Various tales about his unruliness are told until these days [1]. 

Now he stands handcuffed in the harbor district of Hamburg near the International Maritime Museum Hamburg (IMMH). The bronze sculpture by Hansjörg Wagner was erected in 1982 [2]. The artist, painter and sculptor Wagner was born in 1930 in Berlin and lives in Munich since 1951. He is a member of the National Sculpture Society in New York and a honorary member of the Accademia delle Muse, Florence, Italy. Humans, animals, nature and architecture are common themes in his work [3,4].

Störtebeker—or whoever he wasand many of his companions are said to be beheaded on the Grasbrook Island in Hamburg in 1401. Some may have survived (for some time) by being granted their lives if beheaded Störtebeker was still able to reach or pass themdeath row medivial-style.

If you are looking for the sweeter side of life, you should visit another bronze statue: folk stage actress Heidi Kabel is smiling at you at Heidi-Kabel-Platz next to the Central Train Station.

Keywords: sea piracy, punishment, beheading, history, Middle Ages, North Sea, Hanse.

References and more to explore
[1] Edith Oppens: Hamburg. Prestel-Verlag, München, 1981; pp. 84-87.
[2] Klaus Störtebeker - Statue [].
[3] Artist's biographies: Hans-Jörg Wagner [].
[4] Der Künstler Hans-Jörg Wagner [].

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