Flounder in Hand

Günter Grass

Flounder in Hand
Flounder in Hand
Cast Bronze
43.3 x 78.7 in. / 110 x 200 cm


This bronze sculpture was the first of a total of three casts of »Flounder in Hand«, which was manufactured at the foundry Gießerei Fritz Albrecht and erected in the courtyard of the Günter Grass-House in 2002. Like other motifs that entered The Flounder (1977) in a modified form, Grass also initially realized the image of the flounder in a person's hand as a graphic and in a work plan. 

In the novel, the flounder leaps into the narrator's hands. The talking flounder in the novel is omniscient and determines humanity's fate from the Stone Age to the 20th century. Grass's bronze scultpure links in with the role of the fish and develops it further. A male arm juts out of the ground, the hand holding the flounder tightly. The three-dimensional sculpture is covered with a greenish patina. The graphic style of the details is noticeable, for instance, the fingers of the hand as well as the fish's face and its dorsal, side and tail fins. Again, it is the illustrator and graphic artist wielding the spatula. 

Hands have always been an important and widely used motif throughout the history of art, such as the Renaissance examples of Dürer's »Praying Hands« (c.1508) or »The Creation of Adam« (1508-12) by Michelangelo in the ceiling fresco of the Sistine Chapel. Auguste Rodin's »Hand of God« (1896) takes this long pictorial convention into modernism, and Günter Grass continues in the tradition. In Rodin's work, the hand emerges from the marble holding two delicate figures, possibly Adam and Eve, who are surfacing from the stone. Grass's bronze sculpture together with the literary text evoke the connection to divine creativity, which artists since the Renaissance have felt akin to and which is frequently connoted as male by a masculine hand. The Flounder in both media becomes a symbol of male supremacy in the relations between the sexes.