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.



The Asifoscope


I like hand-made things and I like textile art. Besides my interest in abstract art, one reason for this is probably that my sister Christine Keller, now living and working in New Zealand, is a textile designer and weaver.

Since I like abstract art with partially irregular forms, the textiles that especially appeal to my taste are the things she creates using a combination of weaving and felting. A relatively early example of this is her “Golden Scarf“:


The woolen weft is felted after the weaving in a special washing process she developed, resulting in partially irregular patterns. Some of the materials she designed for “Handweberei im Rosenwinkel”, also employ this technique (, most prominently the award-winning “Breeze” material shown in the picture at the top of the article.

The patterns resulting from the felting process have random elements, although they can be controlled to some extend…

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Wearable Abstract Art

For those of you who haven’t seen this yet…

The Asifoscope

Special products are the result of special ideas and emerge from long experience and a deep understanding of the properties of the underlying materials and processes.

In my recent article Randomness and Control – using the example of Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings – I have described the aesthetic effects resulting from a combination of those aspects of a work of art that are under the direct control of an artist, and those aspects that are random. It is possible for an artist, by combining order generating processes with processes allowing for a certain amount of randomness, to achieve that mix of order and disorder – a “controlled chaos” – that results in an experience of beauty (see also On Beauty).

Another artist using such a combination of order generating and disorder generating processes to create objects of outstanding beauty happens to be my sister, textile designer and textile artist Christine Keller. Christine…

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Christine Keller: Light Content

Some photographs of my sister Christine’s “Light Content”, a series of stunning textile art. This is something that is difficult to show on photographs, but one can get an idea. I hope she will exhibit these works somewhere again so more people can see this. I am reblogging these pictures from

These textiles contain some light reflecting fibers. From certain angles and without extra lighting, you hardly see these.

But if you shine light on the fabric and look at it from the right angle, the light shines back and the hidden picture becomes visible.

The weaving was done on a computer controlled loom and the reflecting fibers are woven into pictures derived from photographs. The rest of the fabric is is dyed in natural colors.

The pictures are normally invisible or hardly visible, but shine brightly if you shine light against the piece, so it is reactive or interactive in a way. In the exhibition shown here, visitors could take lamps and iluminate the pieces from different angels. The effect is really fascinating.

The same piece, viewed from the side, with and without ilumination:

Christine with some of her works:

The pictures used in these pieces show technical buildings like electrical towers or bridges. I am interpreting this as illustrating the tension between the natural and the artificial.

In her Artist’s Statement ( Christine refers to this work in particular. I have cited this section in one comment below.

(Pictures: Christine Keller,