A harbinger of the forum metall and an emblem of Linz as a steelmaking city: in 1977, a replica of the ancient goddess of victory Nike of Samothrace was installed on the roof of the University of Arts Linz. The installation of the eight-meter high metal sculpture suspended from a steel framework caused a sensation in Linz.
Above the Heads of the People of Linz
The location chosen by the initiators of the forum metall, visible from afar, was the western bridgehead building of the University of Arts Linz. The large sculpture weighing about 500 kilograms was mounted there in the summer of 1977 on a steel ramp facing east. In this way, the photographic replica of NIKE, opening up on two sides, was easily visible from the main square of Linz and from the Nibelungen Bridge. At night, integrated neon lights gave the figure a shimmering metallic effect.
A Goddess Made of Aluminum and Steel
The sculpture depicts the famous Nike of Samothrace (180 BC), the two and a half metre original of which is on display as a marble sculpture in the Louvre in Paris. The internationally renowned Haus-Rucker-Co architectural group made the headless body of the winged goddess of victory out of aluminum and assigned the United Metal Works Ranshofen-Berndorf to etch a two-by-eight metre large photographic reproduction of the silhouette directly onto single metal plates. The historical model for the mounting of the NIKE, the eight- metre long steel framework, was supplied by a podium from 1920 which the Russian avant-garde artist El Lissitzky made for Lenin.
Fierce Devotion – and Equally Fierce Rejection
No one in Linz was indifferent to the NIKE when it was installed on the roof of the University of Arts in late August 1977, even before the forum metall was even opened. "Ragged scarecrow" or a signal that "at last something is happening in the hinterland without culture"? The pros and cons surrounding the NIKE divided the population like political issues usually do, filling the letters to the editor columns of the Upper Austrian daily newspapers. The proponents of the NIKE included famous artists like Christo, Joseph Beuys, Friederike Mayröcker and Ernst Jandl. In November 1979, 27 months later, the NIKE was finally removed. The date was kept secret owing to fears that it would incite protests following the removal of the controversial metal sculpture by night. Via Düsseldorf, the NIKE subsequently ended up in Frankfurt am Main. The planned installation there, however, at the German Architecture Museum was never realized.