The Sulptor Teresa Feodorowna Ries and Her Private Archive
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The article concerns the recently found private archive of Teresa Feodorowna Ries (1866-1956) who was a famous Viennese sculptor before the World War II. After the annexation to the German Reich in 1938, Ries, who was Jewish, remained in Vienna until probably 1942. Despite the imminent danger and difficult living conditions in Vienna, she tried to organise and regulate the preservation and whereabouts of her works. Her studio in the Gartenpalais Liechtenstein was evacuated and the works expropriated. The whereabouts of many of these works are still unclear, and many are considered lost. In 2018 this private archive was offered for sale in an auction house in Monaco. Since there was no interested party, the author of this article was lucky enough to acquire it about half a year later. The private archive contains letters, documents, photographs, a diary, poems, newspaper articles, lists of artworks, the last will and testament of her mother Bertha Ries and her own, handwritten by Ries. The term ‘archive’ includes different aspects which reflect in the work of Ries in both artistic and historical perspectives. The archive, the accumulation and the collection starting from the beginning, should be transferred into the here and now. The archive, as a place for the memory, for memories and records, returns to its starting point – Vienna. With all the collected documents and gathered information it is now possible to achieve an insight into the life of the artist Teresa Feodorowna Ries, and to continue the search for missing parts and links. The fact that today the original or complete form and condition of certain sculptures can only be seen in photographs is obviously a limiting factor when writing about the artist and her work, but also raises further interesting questions: how to write about something that does not exist any longer?
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