Markus Lüpertz frames the “Genesis”-series at the Durlacher Tor and Europaplatz stops with the four elements; Fire and air face each other at the beginning of the tunnel, earth and water at the end. In addition to his special reception of ancient mythology, he incorporated as well legends, pagan popular beliefs and scientific findings of our time. The artist often divided the landscape format of the ceramic panels into two halves as it is the case in this picture: on the left are two fire salamanders arranged in a circle, on the right the personification of the goddess Hera, a tablet with the inscription “Arcadia” on her lap, her arm resting on a table on which a fire is burning.
According to pagan beliefs, fire salamanders can put out fires. When in danger, the animals squirt a liquid. In medieval times, people believed it to be water, which is why they the animals were thrown into the fire. However, it is a poison that the approximately ten centimeter large animals squirt when threatened. Arranged in a circle, the fire salamanders also symbolize the cycle of growth, development and decay. In this context, Hera as the guardian of fire and the domesticated fire itself stand for its fertilizing function.
Text & translation: © Chris Gerbing, 2023
For a first orientation, you will find here an overview of the 365-day-”Genesis” gallery, which can be reached by underground almost 24 hours a day.