How Karl Lagerfeld Keeps Time

By Izabela Stabinska  Photos by Oliver Rath

Stefan Strumbel’s cuckoo clock is not your typical Black Forest carved wooden timepiece that your grandma used to hang on the wall.

Although his inspiration comes from the traditional German clock, the artist puts a new spin on the device by using elements of urban and pop art.

First, his cuckoo clock attracts by its striking combination of colours, but when you look closer, it provokes by disturbing elements like skulls, guns, grenades, and cross-bones. By exaggerating the form, colour and content, Stefan Strumbel puts the traditional objects into a new and provocative context.

The German artist first started by painting graffiti but his art quickly took a sharp turn. “When I did graffiti, it was all about marking my territory” he told the New York Times. “But then I started thinking that graffiti itself was more of a New York thing and that I should do something that was authentic to where I come from, the Black Forest.” And that led him to the classical Black Forest cuckoo clock.

At first he would buy them at local stores and spray-paint them into street-art inspired pieces. But after the success of his exhibition at a local gallery six years ago, he began manufacturing them on a larger scale by partnering with a sixth-generation cuckoo-clock maker.

Today, Stefan Strumbel exhibits his work in various galleries around the world although he still lives in Germany’s south Black Forest region. He says that the place makes him feel connected with his heimat (a sense of regional identity.)

The clocks are exclusively sold through Galerie Springmann in Freiburg for $1,200 to $35,000 each.

And famed fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is the proud owner of one.

Which design do you like the most?

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