Norbert Kricke is born in Düsseldorf in 1922. He studies with Richard Scheibe at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin from 1946 to 1947. In 1947 he moves back to Düsseldorf where he starts working as a free-lance sculptor. His first works already express qualities that impact on his future artistic development. With bent wire and rods Kricke creates simple, space-engaging sculptures. They follow orthogonal, geometric lines and at first rest on the floor or evolve into the surrounding space. Their title, Raumplastik (Spatial Sculpture), points towards Kricke’s interest in expanding shapes. While fixed to base plates at first, his linear shapes are eventually free to develop within space, yet they remain connected to the floor (Raumplastik 1952).
The following years show Kricke continuously working on a vocabulary of forms and shapes that presents itself in varying dynamics, rhythms, and tension of the increasingly energy-laden forms. Soon the tangles and knots of the welded metal rods become more compact only to develop into extending vectors (Raumplastik1955, Raumplastik »Hornisse« 1955 — 56). Kricke’s ideas for the creation of a »water-relief« and »water forest« that he explains in the essay »Forms of Water« date from the same time. The light reflections and the dynamics of the moving water which Kricke develops into architectonic and plastic shapes are of special interest to him (Wasserwald, Düsseldorf, 1964).
The construction of the façade of Werner Ruhnaus’ City Theater Gelsenkirchen, which Kricke did together with Yves Klein and Robert Adams, was his first public assignment. His façade relief reveals a further transformation of his sculptural work. Narrow, horizontally offset iron bars create a moving, flat, iron front on the concrete façade with grey grids whose light-rasters remind of the purist conceptions of the Düsseldorf-based group ZERO. The principle of the assembled straight lines that almost fuse together is of interest also in his small, spatial sculptures (Raumplastik 1957 — 58, Raumplastik 1959). In 1959 Kricke participates in the Documenta 2.
With the large Raumplastik »Große Mannesmann« that Kricke created between 1958 and 1961 as commissioned work for the Mannesmann company, he created a monument that uniquely expresses the belief in progress characteristic of the 1950s and 1960s. The free ends of the balled-up and knotted stainless steel rods, with their highly effective dynamics, conquer a seemingly unlimited space in front of the multi-story Mannesmann building, facing the river Rhine. At the time, the building designed by Schneider-Esleben had just been completed. During the same year, Kricke has his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1964 Kricke becomes a professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, he also participates in the Documenta 3 and the Venice Biennale.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s Kricke acquires a calmer visual language. Hesitant and singular lines of the metal rods that seem to casually touch prevail in these works, for example in his Raumplastik »Große Fließende« (1965 — 66). Finally only a single rod turns into an object that creeps on the floor in caterpillar-like movements, Raumplastik K IV (1975). In Große Raumkurve (1981) this tendency achieves its monumental culmination in an extended curvature one may pace off, made of matte-finished stainless steel. His later works thus reconnect to the formal language of his artistic beginnings.
Norbert Kricke dies in Düsseldorf in 1984.
Norbert Kricke, 1922 — 1984, Zeichnungen und Raumplastiken: Ausst.-Kat. Inst. für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart 1996
Norbert Kricke, Raumplastiken und Zeichnungen: Ausst.-Kat. Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut, hg. v. Klaus Gallwitz, Frankfurt/M. 1980
Morschel, Jürgen: Norbert Kricke, Stuttgart 1976