Mainz Daily Photo

The Gates of the Gutenberg Museum – The Decision – #1341

The Gates of the Gutenberg Museum – initially a 12 part series attempting to unravel the mystery of the bronze gates of the Gutenberg Museum.


I’ve now (2017) updated the information and rolled it into one article here


>The Gates of the Gutenberg Museum - The Decision - #1341

Karl-Heinz Krause came to the attention of the Bundesbaudirektion early in his career.

Possibly through recommendations from his tutors at the University of Fine Arts.

Possibly through personal contacts (a girlfriend of a fellow student worked there).

But probably because he was simply very talented.

When Rainer Schell came looking for a sculpture for his Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Karl-Heinz Krause had already completed a commission for a relief for the German Embassy in Dehli.

Schell saw it, said “That’s my guy” and the 2 of them starting working together.

Karl-Heinz Krause sketched the draft concept that he presented to Rainer Schell for me the other day.

It was in two parts.

A powerful larger-than-life (2.20m head to toe) figure on a high plinth stretching to the sky with hands open for inspiration for his creativity in front of the museum. Karl-Heinz Krause talks of a “Jüngling” – a word that’s gone out of fashion, but translates as “stripling”.

High metal gates that Rainer Schell wanted as a metaphorical link to the enclosed courtyards of Renaissance Mainz and to the Zum Marienberg private palace that originally stood at this location.

And the gates WOULD be allegorical, presenting the visitor with an intimation of what lies behind them by using imprints of historical printing blocks.

Exactly what Rainer Schell wanted.

Design sketches were made, quotes calculated and a proposal was made to the City of Mainz.

The mayor of the time was Franz Stein, a traditionalist at heart. (People refer to his mayoralty – 1949 to 1965 – as the Steinzeit  – “the Stone Age”…)

The gates were OK, but he wasn’t too keen on the Jüngling.

Naked for a start and – to top it all – standing in FULL VIEW of the Cathedral, junk hanging out and giving the bishop’s residence a full FRONTAL.

A council meeting was called as a jury – Schell and Krause summoned from Wiesbaden and Berlin respectively as the accused – with the contract for the works open on the desk in front of the mayor for signing.

The discussion went back and forth between proponents and opponents of the Jüngling until the mayor says “Enough of this – let’s find out what the public thinks!” and sends out for his secretary and another (female) office worker.

“So what do YOU think of this?” booms the mayor

Vox populi I:   “Ei, der iss mir viel zu dinn” (“Much too skinny“)

Vox populi II: “Ei, wenn Se misch frage, moi Fall isser nett” (“Not my type one bit”)


Mayor closes his folder, unsigned.

Karl-Heinz Krause told me that Schell went white with rage, stood up and said “Mr Krause has a plane to catch. Thank you”

Exit right.


The City Fathers never actually rejected the Jüngling. The submission to council was regularly revisited and just as regularly filed away “For future review”.

A knight in shining armour in the form of the Finnish Society finally saved the day (and face) with a gift of a bust of Gutenberg by Wäinö Aaltonen to sit on the plinth.

Not at all skinny.

Fully clothed, too.

And not at all allegorical…..



This entry was published on 17 May, 2011 at 07:00. It’s filed under Gutenberg Museum, Mainz, The gates of the Gutenberg Museum and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “The Gates of the Gutenberg Museum – The Decision – #1341

  1. >Very funny! I admire your fluency in the local idiom.

  2. >This is such a great story. Can't wait for the next instalment.

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