In his speech, "Power, Beauty, and the Worm", of April 3, 2003, Wolfgang Lettl put into words his thoughts about the painting, "The Candidate":

Four anonymous male figures are attempting to erect an oversized "flat companion". How he is to stay upright remains to be considered. Further back, in the red sky of dawn, there is a man from a clearly bygone time, bidding farewell to it. For the old patriarchal and feudal social orders are no longer suitable or working; technical and scientific progress and the resulting inevitably dramatic social upheavals call for adaptation, for a new image of the human being.

You would be mistaken to assume that I was guided by this theme in designing the painting, "The Candidate", or that in the midst of a parliamentary election campaign I had been trying to show how such a candidate is being built up, his profile and face finally being moulded for maximum media impact which includes the matching discreet tie. No, I don't want to be malicious, that would be quite inappropriate. I painted the picture as early as 1996, after all. What I was interested in was something quite different.

Painting's primary purpose is not to depict an event or a fact; instead it carries its own purpose within itself, like the other arts. What counts are composition and colours, harmony and the play of shapes. There is, for instance, the delight of multiple opposites between the candidate and the group of men: One big one - four small ones, one rigid one - four living ones, etc. That the gentleman from Napoleonic times in the background has an important compositional function may be determined easily by simply covering him up. It then becomes clear how badly he would be missing if he were not there. Nor would we be ourselves without our past.

That a painting should also have a conceptual meaning is therefore not the initial intention of my work, but my experience, and I cannot give you a reason for it, has been that formal soundness will in the end also result in conceptual soundness, that form and content cover each other because one truth cannot contradict the other. The artist's starting point is not reason but intuition, and my Dictionary of Foreign Words lists under intuition: "inner perception without the aid of reason", or "immediate emotional understanding of what is essential".


  • Title: The Candidate
  • Creator: Wolfgang Lettl
  • Date: 1996
  • Date Created: 1996
  • Location Created: Augsburg
  • Style: Surrealism
  • Physical Dimensions: w152 x h125 cm (without frame)
  • Original Title: Der Kandidat
  • Subject Keywords: Napoleon, surrealism, Lettl, candidate, election, electoral college
  • Type: Oil painting
  • Rights: Florian Lettl
  • External Link: The Lettl Collection
  • Medium: oil paint, medium-density fibreboard
  • Art Movement: surrealism
  • Art Form: painting

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