I found this drawing (aprox. 12.7 cm x 13,7 cm, pencil and watercolor on drawing board) among Rolf Keller’s letters. My mother had pre-sorted them by year and this one is from the 1958 file, so I suppose it is from that year although it is not dated. I have not yet transcribed the letters from that year (I am currently working on 1957, fighting with Rolf Keller’s sometimes hard to read handwriting), so I don’t know yet if the drawing is mentioned in any of them.
After Rolf Keller’s son Svend Keller, who had been a political prisoner (see Advent Calendars 3) had been released in 1956, he left the GDR after a few weeks and went to Hamburg in West Germany where he had relatives. As a result, they started writing letters to each other. Of this correspondence, the part from Rolf Keller has been preserved and that is what I am currently working on. The letters turn out to be a very interesting historical source.
The drawing shows some armchairs that Rolf and Grete Keller had acquired. As you can see from these chairs, the typical 1950s style, with its characteristic slanting conical legs, also existed in the German Democratic Republic. The material on the yellow chair, with its irregular black stripes, is a typical textile design of those years.
The captions read:
Left lower corner: “„Mein“ Wannensessel FUG, Gelbschwarz. ich vermisse nur den eingebauten Aschenbecher” (“”My” basin-shaped armchair FUG, yellow-black I’m only missing the built-in ashtray).
Right lower corner “„Muttis“ Sessel SYLVIA schwarz-gelb” (“”Mom’s” armchair SYLVIA black-yellow).
Upper left corner: “Solche Lampe aus d. Verkaufsgenoss. Bi Künstler wollen wir Knudsen zu Weihn. schenken. Wie denkt ihr darüber? (<- Zweiflammig)” (Such a lamp from the Verkaufsgenossenschaft Bildender Künstler (Sales Cooperative of Visual Artists) we want to give to Knudsen for Christmas. How do you people think about it? <- with two bulbs (lit. two flames, a rather old-fassioned expression)).
“Knudsen” was a pseudony or nickname of Svend Keller (see also Ruins 4). The “Verkaufsgenossenschaft Bildender Künstler”, established in 1954, was a state-controlled trade organisation for the visual arts in the German Democratic Republic. This example indicates that not only fine artists in the narrower sense but also designers had to trade their products through this organisation.
I have a faint memory of these chairs, especially the yellow-black one of my grandfather that I must have seen as a child on a visit to Karl-Marx-Stadt (now Chemnitz). I have probably been sitting on that chair myself. I am very fond of this 1950s style of furniture, with this kind of chairs and the characteristic kidney-shaped or triangular rounded tables. I also like the abstract designs on textiles, ceramics and other things from that time, as well as some of the architecture. I suppose that when I was a small child in the 1960s, a lot of such furniture and objects in that style where still arround and these things make me feel at home.