A poem from Frankfurt

We visited the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt (the National Museum of Art was closed for renovations) and came across this very unusual sculpture by Katharina Fritsch. It haunted me so much I had to write a poem about it. Though you might not be able to tell from the photo, it is huge. All the figures are life size. And if you have any idea about what it means, please post a comment.


Katharina Fritsch’s Tischgesellschaft (Table Society), 1988
at the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art

Sitting in Black and White

Katharina Fritsch sculpted thirty-two men
sitting at a long narrow table
covered with a red and white
print oil-cloth tablecloth
Half of the men sit on one side
half on the other,
each looking exactly alike
dressed in black
shirt, pants, shoes.
Each has black hair,
only their faces and hands
are chalk white.
They sit sort of hunched over
looking their opposite in the eye,
their hands on the table
with fingers turned inward
and slightly spread out.
And if you look
under the table
just beneath the edge of the tablecloth
you’ll see each has his knees together
his feet together
in straight, precise alignment
but not placed
quite close enough
to touch those
of his companion
on the other side.
But, no amount of looking
will tell you what
these men sitting precisely so
are doing there.


  1. Life is a journey. One which we often travel alone even when there are people all around us. I am so grateful Madeline for the ‘long distance’ connection we have made.

    So many feel the way I do
    And yet we say nothing
    Not to our family; nor our friends
    Why is that?

    Expressionless faces
    They reveal nothing
    Hiding the pain within
    Why do we do that?

    So near to others
    And yet so far away
    Yearning for ‘closeness’
    Why can’t we get that?

    Lost in the crowd
    Seeking a way out
    Desperate for peace
    Where do we find that?

    So many feel the way I do
    And yet we say nothing

  2. Thank you so much for posting your lovely and heartfelt poem in response to mine. It is such an interesting way to look at the figures in this sculpture, but typical of how so many of us deal with our feelings.
    I, too, am grateful for our connection. All best.

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