Frankfurt’s copper clouds will continue to drift in the heavens of its historical State Theatre

Campaigners for the preservation of the iconic cloud sculptures in the Städtische Bühnen in Frankfurt have won a major victory, following the city council’s approval of the building’s demolition early in 2020.


Städtische Bühnen Frankfurt. Photo: Epizentrum via Wikimedia Commons


After evaluating renovation plans for the theatre, the council had concluded it would be cheaper to instead construct a new building in its place. Quite simply, “wir müssen die Wolken retten,” ("we have to save the clouds") said Professor Ludwig Salgo of Frankfurt’s Goethe University, a signatory of the petition that vigorously opposed the controversial plans.


The hand-welded copper sheets of the opulent ‘Wolken’ by Hungarian sculptor Zoltán Kemény have levitated in their current position under the roof of the city’s theatre since 1963. They are accompanied by a Henry Moore sculpture and painting ‘Commedia dell' Arte’ by Marc Chagall.


"Wolken", Zoltán Kemény (1963). Photo: Epizentrum via Wikimedia Commons


A few weeks ago, the state office for the preservation of historical monuments placed the sculpture under protection. If there is now to be a new building in the place of the old theatre, FAZ suggests the sculpture will have to be creatively integrated in a similar fashion to that of Martin Elsaesser’s 1928 industrial Großmarkthalle building into the European Central Bank’s 2014 glass skyscraper.


European Central Bank, Frankfurt am Main. Photo: DXR via Wikimedia Commons


Silver linings, if not an outright success, if you like the architectural fusion of old meets new.

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