Eugen Gomringer, who was hailed by Emmett Williams as the father of concrete poetry, saw the poetic text as “a visual object and utensil: an object of thought – a mental game.”1 Gomringer sets out to formulate aesthetic thinking in such a way that it can also be functionally transferred to other areas, as a school of seeing geared to conscious visual experience. His poetry can be read or viewed as a visual text in multiple media, an expression of the relationship between concrete art, Zero and concrete poetry. Beginning in the 1960s, Gomringer regularly worked on collaborative projects in dialogue form – artist’s books, portfolios, editions – with artists like Max Bill, Gisela von Bruchhausen, Heinz-Günter Prager and Anton Stankowski. He also collaborated with the Rosenthal porcelain factory on small editions of vases that translated into physical form his initial piece of concrete poetry “ping pong”, which he wrote in 1953. Gomringer’s collaboration with Günther Uecker was particularly intense. In 1971, the artist’s book einsam gemeinsam was produced as a blind embossed print on heavy copperplate laid paper featuring Uecker’s iconic nail forms and Gomringer’s poetic two-liners. Oliver Herwig refers to the 1975 artist’s book wie weiss ist wissen die weisen:hommage à uecker as a “radicalisation of Gomringer’s poetry”.2 He had a computer formulate the key line “wie weiss ist wissen die weisen”, which is a homage to Günther Uecker, in 720 different permutations. The designer Tünn Konerding juxtaposed the text images with Uecker’s nail artworks from the years 1957–1974, as well as with the nail envelope made using the embossed printing technique. In contrast to einsam gemeinsam, this artist’s book is characterised not so much by a mutual artistic exchange as by the search for structural similarities within the coincidental, thereby validating Richard Paul Lohse’s postulate “The method is the image”.
1 Eugen Gomringer, “vom vers zur konstellation: zweck und form einer neuen dichtung”, in id., theorie der konkreten poesie: texte und manifeste 1954–1997, vol. 2, Vienna, 1997, pp. 12–18, here: p. 15.
2 Oliver Herwig, “Eugen Gomringer: wie weiss ist wissen die weisen; hommage à uecker”, in Annette Gilbert (ed.), nichts für schnell-betrachter und bücher-blätterer: Eugen Gomringers Gemeinschaftsarbeiten mit bildenden Künstlern, Bielefeld, 2014, p. 58.
In the exhibition:
Eugen Gomringer Vase Ping Pong, Manufaktur Rosenthal, 1980s Height 20 cm Private collection
Eugen Gomringer Vase, Manufaktur Rosenthal, 1980s Height 30 cm Private collection
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