follow us in feedly
France Gall Sings About ‘Computer Dating’ In 1968
09:12 am


France Gall

Der Computer Nr.3 45 on Decca Records
In 1968, Serge Gainsbourg protégé France Gall participated in the televised song contest Deutscher Schlager-Wettbewerb (“The German Schlager Competition”) where hundreds of composers and lyricists from all over Europe were called upon to write a brand new hit song. A total of 495 titles were submitted, and only twelve songs were selected for the finals which were broadcast live on channel ZDF. Although she was French-born and famously known as a yé-yé singer, Gall did enjoy a successful career in Germany in the late ‘60s. With a little help from Werner Müller and Giorgio Moroder, she published 42 songs in German language between 1966 and 1972.

On July 4th, 1968, 21-year-old France Gall took the stage at the Berliner Philharmonie concert hall and performed a song titled “Der Computer Nr.3” live with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra leaving 300 people and a panel of judges dramatically baffled over what in the world she was singing about: “Computer #3 searches the right boy for me. The computer knows the perfect woman for every man and happiness is drawn instantly from its files.” The song then suddenly takes an unexpected turn when it switches over to a vocoder German computer voice which pre-dates the formation of Kraftwerk “22 Jahre, schwarze Haare, von Beruf Vertreter, Kennzeichen: Geld wie Heu” (Age: 22 years, black hair, professional representative, features: money galore)

The song (credited to the biggest hit-making duo in Germany at the time: music producer Christian Bruhn and lyricist Georg Buschor) then takes yet another completely unexpected turn as it dips into a Beatles cover for a brief moment before diving right back into the subject matter at hand. “Lange war ich einsam, heut’ bin ich verliebt, und nur darum ist das so, weil es die Technik und die Wissenschaft und Elektronengehirne gibbet.” Translated into English, France Gall is singing perfectly to the “Eight Days A Week” melody “Ohh I need your love babe, yes you know it’s true, that’s only because the technology and science and electrons are there.”

Cut to the audience to see hundreds of upper-class post-war Germans staring blankly, emotionless, and reactionless at the very first song ever written about computer dating. While personal computers and the internet were still years away, computer dating was an actual trend in the late ‘60s being targeted to lonely hearts all over the world by way of magazine advertorials. Participants would submit their vital stats, a punchcard-plotted questionnaire, and a personal check in the amount of $3-5 in an old-fashioned stamp-licked envelope. Then they waited patiently (usually several weeks or months) while an IBM mainframe the size of an entire room crunched the numbers on their personalities, intelligence, and preferences (no photos were involved).

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
‘Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion’: German TV’s first sci-fi show
03:24 pm


Spaceship Orion

The 1966 German TV sci-fi cult classic Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion (literal translation: “Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion”) was the very first German science fiction television series, predating even Star Trek’s appearance there by six years. The two shows were developed concurrently, with the German series airing its first episode just nine days after the American program’s first appearance and they have several (accidental) similarities. The Spaceship Orion is supposed to be the fastest flying saucer ever invented. The craft’s commander is a dashing, impulsive American and the plot involves a brewing war with an alien race called—get this—“The Frogs”! (Scriptwriters must’ve been Brits, jah?). Only seven episodes of Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion were produced.

The voice-over intro is similar to Star Trek’s:

“What may sound like a fairy tale today may be tomorrow’s reality. This is a fairy tale from the day after tomorrow: There are no more nations. There is only mankind and its colonies in space. People have settled on faraway stars. The ocean floor has been made habitable. At speed still unimaginable today, space vessels are rushing through our Milky Way. One of these vessels is the ORION, a minuscule part of a gigantic security system protecting the Earth from threats from outer space. Let’s accompany the ORION and her crew on their patrol at the edge of infinity.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Germany issues commemorative stamp collection in honor of Lemmy Kilmister
01:13 pm


Lemmy Kilmister

One of the five commemorative stamps issued by the German postal service honoring the late Motörhead frontman, Lemmy Kilmister.
If you have friends or relatives in Germany, it’s time to call out a favor as the German postal service has just released a collection of stamps honoring the late Lemmy Kilmister.

There are a total of five different images of the iconic Motörhead leader in the book of ten stamps, that will be available for sale starting on May 17th through June 17th, 2016. Sales of the Lemmy stamps will be limited to only 7777 books (an homage to Lemmy’s “lucky seven”), and will run you about eleven bucks (US) over here. But again, you can only purchase them if you’re actually in Germany. So get going on locating your long-lost German Aunt or Uncle as I’m 100% sure these stamps will sell out swiftly. 

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Siouxsie & The Banshees, Kraftwerk, Suzi Quatro, AC/DC & more on German TV show ‘Rockpop’

AC/DC rehersing with Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielson for German music TV show
AC/DC jamming with Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielson during rehearsals for the German music TV show “‘Rockpop’ in 1979. You can see footage of Cheap Trick on ‘Rockpop,’here.
Today I have the perfect remedy for it sadly being Monday—again!—some incredible footage of bands such as Siouxsie & The Banshees, Kraftwerk, AC/DC, Suzi Quatro, and a number of other notable musical acts performing on German music television’s Rockpop in the late 70s.
Suzi Quatro performing on
Suzi Quatro performing on “Rockpop” in 1979
Rockpop was aired on German public-service television broadcaster, ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) starting in 1978 and running until 1982. The show would feature several performances from its diverse selection of musical guests on each episode. Some even performed live, not just miming along to their tunes, like AC/DC, Suzi Quatro, and Wayne County & the Electric Chairs did in 1979.

I’m especially fond of the clip of Siouxsie & The Banshees performing their 1978 single, “Hong Kong Garden” on Rockpop in 1979 (during which a 22-year-old Siouxsie Sioux does a sweet punk rock aerobic routine on stage) to a virtually motionless, rather serious-looking studio audience. In addition to the bands I’ve already mentioned in this post, I’ve also included clips from Rockpop featuring heavy metal heroes like the Scorpions and Judas Priest because the crystal clear footage (in most cases), is just too good not to share.

AC/DC performing “Highway to Hell” live on ‘Rockpop’ live in September of 1979.
More from ‘Rockpop’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The far-out sci-fi costume parties of the Bauhaus school in the 1920s
10:25 am


Bauhaus school
costume parties

Bauhaus school costume party, 1920s
Bauhaus school costume party, 1920s
As we get ready to tell yet another year to kiss our collective asses on its way out the door, that also means it’s almost time for that annual liver-killing bacchanal known as New Year’s Eve. But no matter what you have planned this year, I’m fairly certain that your party will not even come close to the costume parties thrown by students and teachers of Germany’s Bauhaus school back in the 1920s.
Bauhaus costume party, 1920s
Sadly, there are not many surviving photographs of the costumed shindigs thrown at the school, which was founded by the revered German architect Walter Adolph Georg Gropius. It has been said that attendees of the costume parties took the preparation of their costumes as seriously (if not more so) as their studies at the school and the results were a spellbinding array of imagery created by the upper crust vanguard that made up Bauhaus’ academic population. Such as Russian abstract painter, Wassily Kandinsky and the great painter, Paul Klee both of whom taught classes at Bauhaus for approximately a decade starting in the very early 1920s.
Bauhaus costumes by Bauhaus mural and sculpture department head and later theater workshop director, Oskar Schlemmer (1925)
Bauhaus costumes by Bauhaus Mural and Sculpture Department head (and later Theater Workshop director), Oskar Schlemmer (1925)
As for the the school itself, Gropius was very specific about the type of students he and his free-wheeling, arty-administration wanted roaming the halls of Bauhaus. As detailed in his 1925 essay, “Life at the Bauhaus,” then student and Hungarian architect, Farkas Ferenc Molnár, described the very specific “party people” attributes a prospective student should possess before deciding to pursue their studies the school:

For someone to be admitted to the Bauhaus workshops he or she must not only know how to work but also how to live. Education and training are not as essential requirements as a lively, alert temperament, [464] a flexible body, and an inventive mind.  Nightlife at the Bauhaus claims the same importance as daytime activities.  One must know how to dance.  In Itten’s apt phrase: locker sein [loosen up].

I don’t know about you, but if this was a part of my former higher education institution’s “mission statement,” I probably would have stuck around longer. As many photos of the fantastical Bauhaus costume parties that I could dig up follow.
Bauhaus costume party, 1920s
Bauhaus costume party, 1920s
Bauhaus costume party, 1920s
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Amazon sells baseball bats as plus-sized sex toys in Germany
10:08 am



Baseball bat
“The Berlin Slugger”
It’s clear that there aren’t very many baseball fans in Germany. It’s a little less clear whether these listings for “Bondage Fetish Mega Dildos” (seems like German English have a common vocabulary for such items) are intended to be funny or not. It doesn’t really matter—because they are pretty funny!

The wooden bat costs 25.95 Euros (about $36), while the aluminum model costs 34.95 Euros (about $48.50). This pricing makes sense to me. After all, the aluminum model might be cold to the touch but is almost certainly more pleasant to use—that’s not even taking into account the splinter factor.
Baseball bat
“The Weisendorf Wanger”
The company listed as the supplier is called “FEIHOFF sarl,” and if you look at their other offerings on, it’s clear what they specialize in.

Both products feature the term “Basballschlägel” (baseball bat) in the description, so at least we can say with confidence that they do know what’s going on here. Both products also use the phrase—I love this—“Bondage für Kenner,” which translates as “Bondage for Experts.” Actually, here is a list of English words that can serve as accurate translations for “Kenner”: “connoisseur, maven, adept, fancier, appreciator, authority, classicist, dabster, expert, cognoscenti, sophisticate.” You get the point: beginners, do tread carefully!

Ordinarily we at DM like to put a video at the bottom of the post, but I think we’ll pass this time. If you’re curious to see this ... er… “implement” in action, well, Google is your friend!
via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Gorgeous color film footage of turn of the century Berlin
04:11 pm



Absolutely stunning. The footage below is primarily of Berlin around 1900, though it contains a bit of Munich and some shots from 1914, as well. Around the turn of the century, Berlin was experiencing a population boom, mainly due to migration. Massive, rapid industrialization created the beehive of activity you see below, which inspired Mark Twain to call Berlin, “the Chicago of Europe.”

There’s an amazing array of life seen in such a short clip, from political and military pomp and circumstance to children playing to men drinking beer. Beyond the hustle and bustle and beautiful architecture, it’s the fascination of the subjects with the camera that really drew me in. Their curiosity gives the film a very intimate view of life at the time.

Via The Wall Breakers

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Hear the final (drunk) broadcast of Lord Haw-Haw, Nazi Germany’s answer to Tokyo Rose
08:26 pm


Lord Haw-Haw

A lot of folks are familiar with “Tokyo Rose,” a series of English-speaking female broadcasters who trolled Allied forces during World War 2. The idea was that American soldiers would hear the broadcasts and become demoralized, as they contained false information of Japanese victories, supposed “inside information” on unfaithful wives back home, and great music (just to keep them listening). The primary voice of Tokyo Rose, Iva Toguri D’Aquino, was actually an American taken prisoner by the Japanese when she arrived to care for a sick aunt. While she was sent to prison for treason, she was later pardoned in light of the coerced circumstances of her participation in anti-American propaganda.

Like Tokyo Rose, “Lord Haw-Haw” originally referred to quite a few English-speaking broadcasters. Eventually, however, Lord Haw-Haw just became short-hand for William Joyce, an Irish-American with the sort of aristocratic accent described by a British radio critic as “English of the haw-haw, dammit-get-out-of-my-way-variety.” Unlike D’Aquino, Joyce was politically committed to the propaganda he produced. As a teenager he was already an active fascist, and aided the Black and Tans by squealing on the IRA. By 1939, Joyce was a vehement anti-Semite and rising political figure in the British Union of Fascists (BUF) under Oswald Mosley. After receiving a tip that his political activities were about to land him in jail, he fled to Germany.

Joyce quickly became a naturalized German citizen and got involved in wartime propaganda, at first as an anonymous broadcaster, but eventually revealing his identity and becoming a major programming writer as well. The Germany Calling program was exceedingly popular among listeners in the UK (I know that sounds odd, but the announcers enabled prisoners of war to send regards to loved ones.) Like Tokyo Rose, Haw-Haw mocked the British and lied about Axis victories. Opening each show with the trademark, “Germany calling,” Joyce never met Hitler, but was awarded the War Merit Cross (First and Second Class) at the behest of Der Führer.
Lord Haw Haw
Joyce after he was captured
Below is the final broadcast of William Joyce, drunk as a skunk, recorded during the Battle of Berlin in April of 1945. What follows is a sort of epic apologia on what he perceived as Germany’s well-intentioned fascism, and an admonishment of Britain for “escalating the war.” Joyce ends with a simple “Heil Hitler and farewell.” He was captured, tried, and executed for treason soon after, though not before some disgustingly unrepentant final words:

“In death as in life, I defy the Jews who caused this last war, and I defy the power of darkness which they represent. I warn the British people against the crushing imperialism of the Soviet Union. May Britain be great once again and in the hour of the greatest danger in the West may the standard be raised from the dust, crowned with the words – “You have conquered nevertheless”. I am proud to die for my ideals and I am sorry for the sons of Britain who have died without knowing why.”

The day after this recording, the British seized the radio station. A few days later, they broadcast their own show, opening with a sly, “Germany calling.”


Part 2

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Ode to Der Musikladen’s Teutonic go-go girls, the worst disco dancers the world has ever seen
06:05 pm


Der Musikladen

Der Musikladen was a West German television program running from 1972 to 1984, and one of the most diverse music-performance shows ever to grace the international boob-tube. It showcased an incredible array of artists, from Motörhead to Pat Boone to Ray Charles to Blondie. There’s a kind of low budget “fuck it” attitude that goes along with European variety TV that tends to promote a very pluralistic consumption of pop culture (plus it looks like, in the 70s and 80s at least, that they took what they could get).

However, in my opinion, the true legacy of Der Musikladen has nothing to do with their varied musical line-ups. No, the absolute best part of any episode was the go-go dancers, who simply cannot dance for shit. Yes, these Teutonic beauties are captivating, enthusiastic and totally charismatic, but their total lack of skill is mesmerizing. A dearth of coordination, the absence of any semblance of a symmetrical chorus line, and a general awkwardness is the essence of their charm. They literally appear to just be fun girls in skimpy outfits who maybe had a bit of schnapps before the show. Here are some of my favorite segments:

Above is a 1984 performance, and one of the last episodes ever broadcast. The ladies are dancing to Patto’s “Black and White.” Not to be confused with the English jazz-rock band from the 70s, this Patto is a duet of a white German and a black American rapper and the song is a sort of ham-fisted attempt at a rap-version of “Ebony and Ivory,” (which was already pretty ham-fisted to begin with). Needless to say, the track and the dancing are both pretty damning indictments of Germany’s ability to interpret hip-hop in a way that doesn’t make you shudder. But look how cute and happy the girls look in their leotards!

Admittedly, this 1978 segment is a much better use of their talents. First of all, the Michael Zager Band’s “Let’s All Chant” is a disco track, which is kind of their wheelhouse. Second of all, at least this particular line-up of women has some moves… or at least one move, anyway. Before you get too excited about the brunette knowing a step or two, notice they’re using those bitchen’ video effects to disguise the fact that they’re literally using the same footage over and over again. It’s maybe 20 seconds of dancing that they used weird zooms to stretch over an entire song. But who cares! Look at that hilarious weird shimmy the blonde woman does at 1:30!

And here we have some of the most incongruous choreography and costume choices known to god or man. This 1981 performance of Status Quo’s “Lies” suffers from somewhat the same problem as before: weird visual effects does nothing to disguise the fact that there are basically three poorly performed moves in the entire routine. The difference here is that the song is a Nick Lowe-style country influenced rocker, and it’s three and a half minutes long. That is two minutes longer than any go-go dancing segment should be, with the added confusion of a song that really doesn’t take well to go go dancers.

Let’s go out with a bang, shall we? Talk about, talk about, talk about CRAZY EYES, a confusing outfit, lip-syncing, and at 2:12, she even does “The Robot.” I’m out.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Not quite ‘Phase IV’: Woman kept awake at night by ants ringing her doorbell
09:13 am


Saul Bass
Phase IV

A 75-year-old woman from Offenburg in Germany, was kept awake at night by a colony of ants ringing her doorbell.

According to the Metro the woman became so fed-up with the nocturnal bell-ringing that she contacted the police, in the hope of catching the prankster.

After an investigation, local police discovered the culprit was a colony of “prank playing ants.”

They said the insects had built such a big home that the nest pressed the switching elements together, keeping the bell ringing.

In the end, officers removed the nest with a knife, allowing the lady to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep for the first time in a while.

There was no news on the ants but we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re off playing pranks somewhere else.

It’s a small pity Saul Bass didn’t include such larks when he made Phase IV, his cult film about intelligent ants at war with humanity.

Via the Metro

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Black Francis ‘The Golem: How He Came Into The World’

Black Francis scores the classic silent movie—Paul Wegener and Carl Boese’s The Golem: How He Came Into The World.

Often regarded as the height of German expressionism, the silent, black and white film The Golem (also known in it’s German form, Der Golem) was the last of a series of three films by director Paul Wegener and was released in 1920.

Set in the 16th century, The Golem: How He Came Into The World tells the story of the persecution of the Jews of Prague. The towns Rabbi (Rabbi Loew), foreseeing these events, constructs a giant ‘Golem’ out of clay in order to protect his people. Mayhem ensues when the creature rebels and begins to destroy the ghetto. The highly expressionistic imagery seen in the film was captured by legendary cinematographer Karl Freund, who went on to do the classic Metropolis in 1927.

Groundbreaking as it was, the film sat ‘silent’ for nearly 88 years until the San Francisco International Film Festival requested Black Francis score the film and perform it live for their annual film festival in April, 2008. Despite the sold out show at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre (with a line stretching around the block) the score has never been performed live since. However, BF recorded the resulting double album in a matter of days in SF at Hyde Street Studios, with help from longtime collaborator/producer Eric Drew Feldman. The album features Black Francis on vocals/guitar, the late Duane Jarvis on lead guitar, EDF on keys, Joseph Pope on bass, Jason Carter on drums and Ralph Carney on horns.



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Kate Bush: Splendid concert documentary from 1980

I’d never seen this rather splendid documentary on Kate Bush before. Made for German television in 1980, Kate Bush in Concert captures what was, and still is so irrepressible about the pioneering singer and performer, and explains the delightful (and naive) charm that caused so many young virginal fans to pine for her. Mixing live performance with an interview, in which we hear how Kate’s brothers’ taste in Prog Rock (Pink Fairies and Pink Floyd) and Folk Music that inspired her, and explaining the difference between her on-stage and off-stage persona.

‘When I perform, there’s just something that happens in me, it just takes over. It’s like suddenly feeling you’ve leapt into another structure, almost like another person, and you just do it. But when I’m not working, it’s me and I certainly wouldn’t dance around a table and sing.’

Och, well, there goes another wee fantasy of Ms Bush dancing and singing around a homely kitchen whilst baking fruit scones.

With thanks to John Kowalski

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Shadow Play’ and ‘Happy Homes’: Powerful new work by artist Sig Waller

Artist Sig Waller has been very busy with 2 excellent new projects, Shadow Play and Happy Homes, both of which will form part of a new exhibition to be held later this month.

Sig’s latest work has been inspired by a 1950s book called “Happy Homes”, which is described on its frontispiece as “an indispensable guide to housewives and home lovers everywhere.”

Sig has sabotaged the book’s illustrations creating a humorous and pointed critique of the prescribed roles for women within the home. Shadow Play presents an unsettling cartoon figure manipulating a 1950’s housewife (excitedly frothing at the mouth with toothpaste?) through a series of household chores. While Happy Homes is bleaker and more critically of the enforced relationships between women and home, where objects objects and electrical goods take on a controlling, religious, almost sexual and menacing quality, with the figures isolated in darkened voids on blood soaked floors. The images are like stills from a David Lynch movie, but far more potent and disturbing, each creating their own narrative that leaves the viewer unsettled.

Shadow Play will form part of an exhibition called Happy Homes, which will feature work by Sig Waller and Chris Shaw Hughes. Here’s the blurb:

Family life tends to be portrayed as blissful, idyllic and safe, but reality often tells a different story.

In this show, Hughes and Waller explore the dark circumference of the family circle, exposing the crumbling façade and the unseen stories behind the saccharine smiles that stare out at us from family albums or media and advertising photography. What lies beneath this apparent perfection?

‘Happy Homes’ explores these boundaries, the everyday secrets that families seek to contain and withhold. Found imagery is given new meaning, reality is warped and altered – or is it?

They say “the camera never lies”, but the power of the photographed image lies in its ability to conceal or to contain both truth and falsehood. On closer inspection, the ordinary almost always becomes extraordinary.

Happy Homes opens on January 25th-February 17th, 2013, at Krefeld, 35 Blumen eV - Blumenstrasse 35 47799 Krefeld. More details here.

Shadow Play and Happy Homes on the Sig Waller site and on Facebook and Tumblr.
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Beautiful Fevered Dreams: The Art of Sig Waller

Sig Waller: ‘Our capacity for cruelty and suffering is timeless, as is our ability to look away’

More of Sig Waller’s ‘Happy Homes’, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
People losing their shit on New Year’s Eve in Berlin
03:01 pm


New Year's Eve

There are some folks who like to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and then there are some folks who really fuckin’ like to celebrate New Year’s Eve. This video captures some of those latter types in action.

Remind me to never be caught in Berlin on December 31st.

Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Art is a means of feeling our way forwards’: Oskar Kokoschka’s letter to a prisoner of war

The artist, poet and playwright, Oskar Kokoschka sent the following letter to a young German prisoner of war, in 1946. In it he advised him to be warmed by love ‘the sight of our neighbor, other people, a foreign nation, another race,’ in which the ‘embrace of love will illumine the choice, form and shape of a new order of humanity.’ Kokoschka understood the young man’s trauma, having himself served as a Dragoon in the Imperial Austrian army, during the First World War, where he slithered in trenches through ‘bottomless mud,’ until he was seriously wounded and considered too mentally unstable to fight - the twisted logic of this was not lost on Kokoschka. Later, he was the focus of hatred and bigotry, when his art was deemed ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis. It forced Kokoschka to flee Austria for Prague, before then moving to Ullapool in Scotland, where he remained for the duration of the Second World War.

In this letter, Kokoschka expounds his belief in the importance of art and the artist that could show the ‘way up from subjection of blind obedience to human freedom.’

To a German Prisoner-of-War (Fritz Shahlecker)

[London,] 4 July 1946

A close friend showed me the drawings you made in the camp in England. He told me of your prospects of soon regaining your freedom and returning home to Tübingen. Like many of your fellow-Germans, you were abused in your early youth by a criminal demagogy and thrown into a war of aggression, during which the authority of human precepts was thoroughly and totally suspended, and which appears even now to threaten the future validity of those same precepts.

As an older man, I am in a position to make comparisons which shed light on the changes that have taken place in the moral sphere. That gives me a right to offer a younger man some advice that may come in useful when you are home again. After every great disappointment - in your case, when one has been the victim of a betrayal - one’s insight is clouded, because one is always overcome by weariness at the same time. The tendency to feel sorry for oneself is only a natural consequence of that weariness. You are honest in your drawings, but it seems to me that you tend towards the idealized view which comes from being in the center of a world that one is trying to rebuild. In your drawings you are trying to give shape to a new world with artistic expressive media available to you, after the reduction of your old world to ruins. You want it to be a human world, in contrast to the physical, materialistic world where naked force ruled, and in my view that is the hopeful and promising aspect of your experiment.

But the advice I would like to give you, however great your present need and poverty may be, is this: stop surrendering to a tendency to study yourself alone and to forget that a sentimental outlook is just as sure to lead to waste and failure as the entire order that is collapsing before our eyes today. That order sprang from individual egoism, and was helped to ripen by nationalistic narrowmindedness. Humanism was believed dispensable. This materialistic attitude found its complete embodiment in Fascism. Bear in mind that your personal need and poverty, both physical and spiritual, are nevertheless infinitesimal compared to the need and poverty of the children abandoned to savagery in today’s world. If your heart turns in hope to the work of rebuilding, because you are young and want to do good, you must help to make a better world for these children. You saw for yourself that what was achieved by the sword came to nothing in the end, therefore take up your pencil in the hope of doing better. You do not succeed in expressing anything about the pain throbbing in mankind today, because you are not yet able to give shape to genuine emotions. It will be like that for as long as you idealize yourself as a man of sorrows, instead of looking for the redeemer in every innocent child. The child can truly be the redeemer, if we can genuinely believe in the possibility of a better world. Sentimentality does not help us to discover new worlds, it makes us cling to the past in fascination. The new world can only be given shape if we love our neighbor. If we are warmed by love, the sight of our neighbor, other people, a foreign nation, another race, will enable us to shape a new image of the world, in the contemplation of which the isolation of the individual and his nameless torment in a ruined world will give way to the splendor in which the embrace of love will illumine the choice, form and shape of a new order of humanity. All art, that of the great epochs as well as that of primitive cultures, that of colored races as well as our own folk art, is rooted in this soil, in which the moral man has vanquished dust, decay and force. Man overthrows the dictates of physical laws and the dominion of blind elements, and by that means fights his way up from subjection of blind obedience to human freedom.

Art is a means of feeling our way forwards in the moral sphere, and it is neither a luxury of the rich nor the rigid formalism that comes out of the theories of the academies. The modern art of the present time also tends towards arid formalism. Art is like grass sprouting from the frozen earth at the end of winter, like growing corn, and like the spiritual bread in which the human inheritance is passed on to future generations.

In hope that you will find the inner strength to practice the spiritual office of an artist in the future, I leave you with my best wishes,

Yours, Oskar Kokoschka

‘Oskar Kokoschka Letters 1905-1976’ is published by Thames and Hudson.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 3  1 2 3 >