Helmut LUECKENHAUSEN, Ark of the Law (Aron Hakodesh) Enlarge 1 /1


Cologne, Germany born 1950

  • Australia from 1954

Ark of the Law (Aron Hakodesh) 1999 Description: Cabinet for storage of Torah scrolls in Jewish ceremony
Place made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: furniture, cabinets, blackwood (Acacia) case with book-matched blackwood veneers and anodised, engraved and paint-filled aluminium plates Cabinetry construction.

Dimensions: 231.0 h x 198.0 w x 66.3 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2003
Accession No: NGA 2003.251
Subject: Religious observances/rituals

In designing furniture for religious, educational and civic ceremonial purposes, Helmut Lueckenhausen has researched the history and symbolism of the ark. He has translated it into a work of contemporary relevance, not only for Jewish culture but also as an authoritative extension and expression of his own interest in the history and meaning of furniture. Lueckenhausen interprets this aspect of the tradition of a religious faith in Ark of the Law (Aron Hakodesh), using native blackwood (acacia) for the case. Anodised and engraved gold and silver aluminium plates that decorate the doors depict abstract delineations of a lion, a leopard, a deer and an eagle. The work’s overall design, based on a precise mathematical system of grids, reflects the formal order implicit in the sacred contents that it was designed to contain, and the symbolic function it was intended to serve. As any cabinet can conceal or reveal its contents, so too can this ark suggest the possibility of order and the continuity of tradition and the world of the spirit.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra