“Bon Anniversaire” on the occasion of the
300th birthday of Frederick II of Prussia
at the Lichtenau Palace, Potsdam, January 2012
The physiognomic resemblance to Frederick II in Adolph von Menzel’s painting “Flute Concert in Sanssouci” predestined Otto Gebühr for this role in 16 feature films and numerous stage appearances. A “Gebühr cult” was problematic at the time – the portrait was created after the endurance epic “Der große König” (“The Great King”) about the Seven Years’ War with battles according to the motto victory or downfall. On the other hand, Frederick saw himself as an Enlightenment philosopher and the first servant of his state. Five portrait versions were created from the 13-part stencil set, picking up on these facets.
Ruth Martius commented on the pictures in the opening speech as follows:
With elaborate stencils, she lays layer upon layer, simultaneously deconstructing with her works not only actual buildings, gates or monuments, but also the pathos attached to them or time-honoured ways of reading. In doing so, she seems to open up a view of history, architecture and also the socio-political language reflected in them. But it is a view on her terms: For Theek’s sensitivity, precision and enormous knowledge, which expands with each project through her detailed research, creates a new view of realities that would otherwise remain hidden under layers of the supposedly self-evident. Her works could be a mirror of the life of Frederick II. On the one hand aesthetic, appealing, analysing things – on the other hard, sometimes almost brutal. Each work connects history with the present on various levels. As if they were anchors with which the past is artistically brought into the present in order to look at it anew.