Sauerborn’s working method

1   Finding of structure
In Sauerborn’s working method „greater importance is K0 - K2attached to color than to structural or formal problems“ as the artist writes herself. Color becomes in its extreme and light intensive reduction the carrier of the essential action of the picture. In order to articulate itself „without falling into vain monochromatic tautologies“, color requires organization by structure. In the process of putting greater weight onto color, the methods of combination and of regular and systematic variation with the intention of gaining the structural frame of the picture, have priority over the use of an individual structure which is always basically new in the beginning. The method used maybe called a regressive method which is followed by a progressive phase of construction. That means that after reexamining the fund of permanently multiplying structural sketches some will be taken out as familiar ones, and the law of their connexion will be formulated explicitly. In a progressive phase the construction of a discrete sequence of constellations will follow into which the underlying law of the pictures develops and materializes. K3 - K5Thus the sketch K0 e. g. is analysed in the regressive phase together with a series of similarly projected sketches and is subsequently constructed in a regular way by rotating the axis “a” about a fixed point “A” by 45 degrees each in the mathematically positive sense. The result of this technique is a sequence of nine discrete constellations K1 – ­K9 the last of which is identical with the first constellation. That part of compository work which consists in the finding of structure is largely rendered independent and is objectified.

2  Distribution of color
The distribution of color, too, is subsequently objectified and subdued to a general rule. To this end, the individual structure fields are placed together in various classes and assigned two-figure numbers. Accordingly, there are for constellation K9 three different classes of planimetrical fields that are defined by the first number: 1x, 2y, 3z depending on whether they are fields belonging to the ground (1 x) or to the figure; and here again they are differentiated according to circular (2y) and stripe elements (3z).K6 - K8 This classification is made however only for the sake of analytical transparency of the demonstration, for Sauerborn’s intentions are exactly focused on a neutralization of the differentiation of figure and ground. In our particular instance (cf. illustration K9) there are eight structural fields divided into three classes: (11,12,13), (21,22,23), (31,32). For compository reasons intended by Sauerborn, there can be made partial identifications in color of course only of non-neighboring fields without destroying the structure of the whole. Thus the following fields may be identified for example: 11 = 23, 12 = 31, 13 = 32. That means, the number of the possible different colors is reduced from eight to five. According to the program of precise exploration of all the modifications the interdependence of color through the variative compository technique is submitted to, a diagram is set up which regulates the possible distribution of nine (1 to 9) shades of color within the series of nine constellations being developed systematically from one basic situation (cf. diagram).

3  Artistic control
It still remains to be ascertained in which points of this methodical development K9 - K10of the pictorial action the objectivity of rules is – corresponding to its merely instrumental character – subordinated to and replaced by artistic control. For it is clearly expressed in Sauerborn’s statements that artistic control is always granted priority, that any kind of methodics can only serve as a means, a means to explore as exactly and completely as possible the perspective plane, but which is not yet an end in itself, composition itself.
The spontaneity of artistic control is realized in six points of the pictorial genesis: 1. in the set-up of the fund of structural sketches, 2. in the effective selection of the structure-giving law; 3. in the chromatic identification of the structural fields which is achieved in only one possible way; 4. in the concrete selection of the underlying color chart; 5. in the process of painting, in the course of which the previously established scheme of color distribution may be modified by the concrete situation of colors; 6. in the acceptance or the rejection of a result. Thus everything is subdued to the primacy of artistic control: „Systematic representation … is a corrective of spontaneous innovation or vice versa“ (Sauerborn).

first published: catalogue /exhibition „Aen Sauerborn, paintings, sculpture“ 1973, Kunstverein Unna, pp. 38-42
Translation: Blandina Carl /Kempten