What does it say about the internet (and our society) that every reference I can find for this piece mentions it is the most valuable sculpture in Offenburg? Does it have no other significance?
I would have thought that content or artistic merit would be more important. But obviously I am wrong. (And admittedly I did my search in English; a German language search might yield different results.)
This particular sculpture can be found beside Holy Cross Church in Offenburg. I cam across it in a random fashion, stretching my legs between trains.
Public art comes in many forms. Offenburg’s municipal website shows many sculptures, but they are contemporary. Historical art, such as this work, are a different category. And certainly this piece is historical – it dates from 1524, though it has been restored a time or two in the past 500 years.
I had to look at the sign to figure out the scene – Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, praying with his disciples shortly before his arrest. I might have puzzled it out if I had had time to contemplate, but I had to catch my train. Now I know I need to go back.
The Biblical story captured in stone here is worth contemplation. It is a tale of human betrayal mixed with trust in God. Of the depths and frailties of friendship. Of the rejection of the path of violence and offer of a life of love.
Maybe I have misinterpreted the websites. Maybe the translation is weak. Perhaps the sculpture’s value comes indeed from the story, what it represents and what it says to us in the 21st century about the love of God.
I hope so anyway.