Sprachblätter – poésie spatiale
Carlfriedrich Claus und Ilse und Pierre Garnier
The Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz preserve the complete estate of this exceptional artist in the Carlfriedrich Claus Archive Foundation. From September 23, 2018 to January 6, 2019, an exhibition at the Museum am Theaterplatz is dedicated to the unusually close and productive friendship between Carlfriedrich Claus and the French artist couple Ilse and Pierre Garnier. On display are some 180 works from almost four decades of creative work, as well as letters, artist’s books, portfolios and artist’s magazines. A generous donation of five original portfolio works to the Carlfriedrich Claus Archive by Violette Garnier, daughter of Ilse and Pierre Garnier, will be presented to the public for the first time.
Carlfriedrich Claus (1930-1998) worked in Annaberg-Buchholz in the 1950s – far from the art centers, but well informed by his travels in Berlin – on experiments that culminated in an outstanding synthesis of written and drawn works towards the end of the decade. He called these works, overlays of meticulous scribbles and gestural micro-traces, “language sheets”. Claus thus made a contribution to an international art movement that was still in its infancy as visual poetry. His “Sprachblätter” were included in international exhibitions such as ” Skripturale Malerei” (Scriptural Painting, Berlin-West 1962) or “Schrift und Bild” (Amsterdam and Baden-Baden 1963). First publications followed in the catalogues of these exhibitions as well as in relevant avant-garde magazines (“nota”, “Diskus”, “manuskripte”) and publications (“movens”, 1960). Due to these contributions, he was increasingly noticed by the public.
The artist couple Ilse Garnier (*1927) and Pierre Garnier (1928-2014) contacted him by letter in autumn 1963. The two lived as artists and translators in Amiens, France, and, like Claus, worked in the field of tension between image-text and text-image. Their words and groups of signs occupying the surface, in conjunction with the concise titles, enable a poetic differentiation and an openness that goes far beyond conventional verbal messages. As editor of the journal for experimental literature “Les Lettres”, Pierre Garnier was committed to the international networking of this new art movement. He saw their common ground in a tendency towards spatialization, which was created by new procedures such as the superimposition or penetration of pictorial and linguistic signs. He published knowledgeably about Carlfriedrich Claus and visited him together with Ilse after the construction of the wall in the Erzgebirge in 1964. An intensive artistic friendship developed, the testimonies of which are the subject of the exhibition.
An extensive correspondence between Ilse and Pierre Garnier and Carlfriedrich Claus from 1963 to 1998, which is kept in the Carlfriedrich Claus Archive of the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, reflects the aesthetic debates of the time, contemporary historical events and, last but not least, the human dimension of this friendship. On the basis of Claus’ “Sprachblätter” and the Garniers’ pictorial poems, the fruitful exchange between the artists becomes as clear as the aesthetic range of visual poetry.
An edition of the correspondence between Ilse and Pierre Garnier and Carlfriedrich Claus is in preparation and will be available during the exhibition.