Carl Amann – 1947


A pencil sketch by Svend Keller, showing the painter Carl Amann in two perspectives. Signed and dated 24th of April, 1947.

Like Rudi Gruner, Carl Amann was one of the artists living in Chemnitz (later renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt and then Chemnitz again) at the time, just like Rolf Keller and his son, Svend Keller. And like Rudi Gruner, he acted as model to Svend Keller, who was doing an aprenticeship as a grafic artist at the time.

Carl Amann was born on December 4th, 1908 in Ulm. He died in Karl-Marx-Stadt on February 5th, 1971. Biographical information about this artist can be found here. If you search the web, you might occasionally find information on auctions where some paintings of him are offered. E.g., here is a self portrait of him from 1937. If you compare the two protraits, you can see the effects of the stress of war and the times of hunger that followed.


A Long Time in the Making


This gallery contains 15 photos.

This beautiful book arrived in my mail today. There is so much detail to explore that you can only glimpse if you see the pictures posted. Seeing a work of art as an original is really different. A very special, … Continue reading

Abi Shek in THE BOX, Düsseldorf

Abi Shek. Without title. Woodcut with ink on canvas, 150 cm x 116 cm. Picture courtesy of Abi Shek.

THE BOX, a Gallery in Düsseldorf (see, opened a new exhibition this evenig showing some works of Abi Shek. Not only do I like Abi’s art a lot, his family and my own are also connected by several ties of friendship, so it was a special pleasure for me to attend the opening of the exhibition. The author, essayist and poet Frank Schablewski, a friend of Abi, delivered an interesting opening address, providing his own interpretation of Abi Shek’s works.

A central topic of Abi’s work is animals. The works shown here are large woodcuts, really large compared to typical print sizes. They are printed with printer’s ink on stretched, gessoed, painting size canvases. In some cases, like in the example shown above, additional picture elements have been painted using blue-violet ink.

Abi’s works are abstracted to black, filled contours on white ground, reduced to two dimensions. They are partially inspired by living animals, partially by ancient cultures, especially pre-historic rock art. They hover on the border between abstract and figurative art, distilling the animals into archetypal shapes that evoke resonances of animal fables and emotional encounters with nature.

The exhibition also includes a number of small metal sheet sculptures, showing animals as well. These also start with two-dimensional contours cut out of the metal sheets, but regain the third dimension by bending the sheets. As a result, they inhabit a border area between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional, between graphic art and sculpture. Abi Shek originally studied sculpture with Micha Ullman. These sculptures indicate how Abi’s graphic art is connected to his origins in three-dimensional art. In a way, his wooden printing blocks are sculptural as well, reliefs that are then used as printing blocks.

For more information on Abi Shek see

THE BOX. Duisburger Str. 97, 40479 Düsseldorf, Germany.

May 2nd, 2014 to May 18th, 2014.

Opening times: Mo. 7 PM to 10 PM, Tue. 6 PM to 21 PM, Fr. 6 PM to 8 PM or uppon arrangement.

Pencil Sketch of a Factory


A pencil sketch by Svend Keller, 30. April (?) 1949. (I think the month is a Roman number IV, so that would be April). I don’t know if this is RAW Chemnitz Hilbersdorf again or another place. The buildings at the foot of the chimney and the fact that we don’t see its top give the impression of its size. I like the way the bearing structure of the left building and the branches of the tree before it are forming a web-like pattern. (The blue blob of ink at the left side was obviously an unintentional accident, it can be found on a number of other sketches as well.)

There is a certain feeling of fascination for me in this drawing. To describe it, let me cite the Italian artist Marco Bigliazzi  (you find his blog here), who has expressed this very aptly. In an interview (full text is here), he said:

Cranes, chimneys, factories, railroads are magical and mysterious objects for kids. If you are not obliged to work in them once grown up – if you are not obliged to confront the hard nature of daily working routines in such places – it’s most likely that they retain these qualities. […] I like metros, undergrounds, stations and so on. Flyovers, construction yards, factories, raw spaces of work always seemed to me more real than other parts of the city: less made-up, more frank, sometimes even in a frightening way – as I was saying, more real. And there were all these fantastic, mysterious shapes: engines, tanks, pylons, cranes, containers.

I totally agree. Such buldings have a certain fascination, a kind of beauty of their own. It is sometimes an instance of what I described in The Dark Side of Beauty but definitely, such places have always had a kind of magic for me. This is definitely one of the factors that cause my fascination for the industrial landscapes my father painted, see RAW Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf and RAW Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf Monochrome. It is definitely also the reason I am fascinated in Bigliazzi’s art. Feelings like this are also triggered by abandoned buildings, especially industrial ones (see Towards the Philosophy of Decay).