Art-Life-Creativity . Kunst-Leben-Kreativität

Werner Stürenburg, born in 1948, signature “joe”.

Studies in Mathematics, Physics, Art History, Philosophy in Berlin, New Orleans, Bielefeld since 1966. 1976 PhD in Mathematics. High school teacher (math, art) until 1982, free lancing since.

First one-man show “Werner Stürenburg” at Leopold-Hoesch-Museum Düren in 1983 with catalog. Basel Manifesto published at art Basel 1984. Gallery exhibitions in Germany and Europe. Many works in private and public collections.

Adonis portrait by Friedrich Riehl.

One after one, all my works should be presented and commented here.

This is a rather small painting. One of more than 700 to date. A start to begin with.

What does it mean? I don’t know. I think there is no doubt that three male heads are given, and much may be said about the characters and the relationship between them. The question is: would any description help? Help what? Help to understand it? Should art be understood? Can art be understood? Let’s see.


A short and simple word. Art. Just three letters. But what kind of a world is given by that notion!

Some people can’t do without, some pretend they do — but most probably, they don’t know that they need art just as well. Art may be one of the very few things distinguishing man from animal.

Did you try to live in a room without pictures? I did. I remember a visit in a hotel in the vicinity of Barcelona, Spain, back early in the seventies. Every room was decorated with small paintings, all by the same artist, mostly still lifes, lemons and the like, pretty dull and boring. It made me sick after a few hours, so I decided to turn them, facing the wall, showing their backside.

Surprisingly, after only a few days, I felt such a need for eye food that I rather wanted to look at these inferior pictures than living without. It was an experience that showed me something I never forgot. “Man shall not live by bread alone” — this is really true, and if the basic needs are taken care of, man feels an emptiness which has to be filled.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. This is the whole citation attributed to Jesus, and the emptiness may well be the indication for that longing. Art cannot becalm that longing, but may indicate the direction the soul wants to go. Anyway, I’m eager to find out what my musings will lead me to.

Art, I pretended in my first post yesterday, is essential to man. But what is it? Is it just entertainment? Illustration?

If you take a pen or a brush and some material to draw on and do some strokes, will the product be art? When does paint on board or canvas become art?

There is a very easy answer to this question. The answer is: Art is in the eye of the beholder. In other words: It’s all up to you. If you think it is art, it is.

Unfortunately, easy answers tend to be wrong. And this one is definitely as wrong as any wrong answer can be.


Don’t be mistaken by my post of yesterday — money isn’t really everything, and it definitely isn’t a valid measure for art unless you put time into the equation.

Again, proof is easy. Every now and then, we witness weird fashions. Everybody must have this or that, and this applies to art as well. People try to be different and alike at the same time.

They want to be different from everybody not of their kind, but alike to everybody they consider their peers. And they express their conformity through things and behavior.

Actually, fashion is just that: If you own this, then you belong to us. And vice versa: I don’t care for what you have, because I own different things, and by acting so I really mean: I don’t care for you.


I started this series in English, but I don’t really know why. Today I will write in German.

At the end of yesterday’s musing, I emphasized that the meaning of a work of art seems to be the major point. But what is the meaning?

“Bedeutend” (meaningful, significant, important, eminent) was one of the favorite words of the collector-at-large » Peter Ludwig. Needless to say he didn’t want to collect unimportant stuff — who would like to?


”Painting is stronger than I” » Pablo Picasso is said to have claimed in his old days. Most probably he meant that he was not capable of controlling a painting, something different than he originally intended would emerge for sure.

This is most remarkable considering the high degree of virtuosity Picasso possessed, but it is even more astonishing that he even made the statement in the first place.

It emphasizes what was known from the report of » Françoise Gilot: Picasso tried to replace inspiration by construction. In other words: Sometimes he didn’t know what to do.


Yesterday’s musing was called  Blue Period. Of course, this was an allusion to Picasso’s “Blue Period”.

Up to this day people wonder why he painted blue for quite some time. As far as I know, he never made any statement about that.

In the beginning of the ’30s, an important exhibition of Picasso’s works were shown in Zürich. The psychotherapist » Carl Gustav Jung has written about this exhibition in a two-part article in the local newspaper “Neue Züricher Zeitung”.


The last couple of days, I was writing in German about the questions “Who paints?”, “Blue Period” and “Become who you are”.

Most naturally, I hit upon Picasso, as he is one of the greatest masters of the past century and we know very much about him. Here I mentioned an article I wrote a couple of years ago about the famous painting » Guernica.

Today, somebody told me about an article on the question of screaming horses. Most everybody knows that horses cannot express pain, but then people pretend that horses do nevertheless, especially in the context of war.


The head to the left is one figure out of quite a number of them on a canvas measuring 100 by 146 cm (39 x 57 inch). I remember that I was pretty much puzzled by this painting.

The point was, I didn’t know what to think about it. But I didn’t have much time to relate to it, I don’t think it ever hung on any of my walls. It has been private property long ago and I nearly forgot about it.

When I scanned the slide tonight, I was curious about my reaction. Still, I didn’t know if I would like or at least appreciate it.

Looking at the scan, I wondered what kind of cutout to take for tonight’s rambling. So far, I just took the central figure. But that wasn’t an easy question here, because I didn’t know which figure was central in the first place. Trying to make up my mind, it occurred to me that I should rather not pick one area like before but several of them instead, and I started with the head in the upper left corner.


Yesterday, I broke my newly established habit of presenting a snippet of a new painting every day and decided to rather concentrate on one painting for a longer time instead.

The reason was that the painting I chose wasn’t as simple as the other ones chosen before. The sheer number of faces alone made it difficult to decide which one should serve as representative for the whole picture.

In another respect this painting is different. The other examples I chose so far feature kind of real persons, with a body, with clear relationships in space.


Today I choose to use the German language — although I restrict my audience, this is my mother tongue, and if I write English, my fellow countrymen have a harder time.

Apart from that, English isn’t everything — which Frenchman will talk English? In some way we are kind of trapped into our languages.

In contrast, pictures seem to be understood everywhere in the world, but this isn’t really true. Everybody must learn to read pictures, pictures can only be understood with respect to the cultural background, just like languages.


This is the third of the big heads in painting 242. It is situated right below the second big head, and both denote the middle axis of the picture.

This figure is placed quite exactly in the middle of the lower border; due to the gradient of the head, there is a slight skewness which is emphasized by the fact that the head above is placed to the right and given in a three-quarter profile looking to the left.

We have seen the orange-red feathers forming his headdress two days ago already ( Indian Warrior). Both the headdress and the red face painting as well as the drawn out earlobe suggest an exotic origin. A red pearl necklet decorates the neck; due to the intensive red color the face appears particularly pale.


Yesterday, I had a look at the third of the three large heads on painting 242, that is the last one of those having the same size, but being significantly larger than the other seven heads to be found on that piece.

Next to the left of this head to which I associated “Buddha” in some way is one of those smaller heads, all of them having approximately the same size as well. This one is different in another aspthect but size, namely credibility or level of realism.

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It has been a couple of days now since my last entry. The reason for the delay is that I changed plans. Writing in either English or German most probably won’t please anybody.

That’s why I will continue to write in both languages and then translate the text into the other language immediately. In the meantime, I built the mechanism for switching between languages ( ).


The next of the smaller heads sits right next to the  indian warrior and  the fish at his head. The eye of the fish can be seen on this cutout.

Potentially, the yellow shape on top might be the dorsal fin of the fish, but the notch points to the wrong direction; it is easier to think that this form means a shock of hair. From this cutout, it is hard to tell which view is correct.

The figure definitely has a blue face, more decidedly blue than the  no brainer is green. The blue seems to be the same pigment all over, attached more or less thick, maybe mixed with more or less white — it is hard to decide from the picture given here, but from the original scan I can judge that there are some smaller green areas within the blue. After having identified that, I can tell from the small representation as well; green spots can be identfied for example beneath the eye at left.

Like the others, this face can be read as profile and three-quarter face as well. The figure looks distressed and a bit callous, being very little interested in the environment, too.

The red eye and the black hole beneath the other are most noticeable. This head as well is peculiarly flat, doesn’t seem to possess a cranium, which becomes most obvious if the profile is isolated.

This separation may not be that easy to achieve, therefore I did myself a favor and cropped the figure itself and the profile next. In this mode the figure seems to be even more lonesome and lost, withdrawn to itself. The profile seems to be more extroverted.

The cap or the hair corresponds in some way to the green-yellow shades at the other side, which I didn’t notice before. The sentiment of shivering is backed up by the black coat, whose collar seems to be turned up. The whole face is characterized by the missing cranium, but looking at the profile, it is amazing that a lively face seems to be given, a personality indeed, although it can at most denote a mask.

Quite generally, a mask looks totally dead, which cannot be said at all from this figure. Somehow I associate with it the king Frederick the Great, a kind of old age portray. Isn’t he always given a little bit embittered and resigned, this first servant of his state?

Quite noticeable are both the attachments which could denote flowers, but equally well a kind of pit lamp. In this interpretation, four lights per lamp can be identified; however, the black crosses could be emphasized just as well, consisting of four blades with a central shaft, therefore denoting a revolvable construction. Actually it is quite obvious that the right cross is aligned with respect to the horizontal and vertical lines, the left cross being rotated in contrast.

I have used the word “cross”, therefore I think it is necessary to emphasize that no association with the Christian symbol is intended and cannot be evidenced in any way. Of course, C.G. Jung would stress the number four immediately and read this attribute together with the circle form as a symbol of completeness, as a concentrating Mandala — and I’m sure he would be able to interpret the duality of the symbol as well. I remember quite vividly that Erich Engelbrecht started to count the leaves of a plant and the stamina according to the symbolic of numbers as set forth by Jung on one of my very rare still lifes some 30 years ago. Quite naturally, I was very much impressed by the sovereignty of the senior, but nowadays I just shrug my shoulders in view of intellectual exercises of this kind.

Do these entities belong to the blue figure or do they rather appear isolated somewhere in the background? That’s equally hard to decide like with the green figure at left where we don’t know if the flower belongs to the headdress or just appears behind it. Anyway, the background to the left and right of this figure is red, but black and blue above it. The right flower/lamp is backed by a black “glow” separating black from red. Perceived representational, the situation remains unclear and incomprehensible. The emotional impact of this figure, however, is equally intense compared to the others looked at so far.

Do I like this figure? I didn’t even ask the question with respect to the other figures, did I? Here, I noticed first that the person seems to be uncanny, unappealing, a little bit frightening, but in the meantime I have learned to rather like it due to this contemplation. Basically, I made this transition with the other figures pretty much the same way. All of them are more or less strange to me.


The  gallery is created! Enjoy yourself!

In the gallery, we present the whole paintings. One of these days, the gallery should show all of joe’s work, some 700 numbers until today. Right now, we basically show the paintings we talked about since mid January.

You can get them in chronological or reversed order in two sizes (500 & 800 pixel) and individually each in three sizes (500, 800 pixel und original scan) with easy to use navigational links.

The perception of any object is strongly influenced by its dimensions. This is particularly true for pictures. Some seem to be bigger, some smaller than they really are. To get an idea of the original, it is necessary to know its dimensions.

Hence I’m bothered when I have to look it up in books tediously, sometimes in the appendix, and maybe they don’t even give the information anywhere. According to me, the dimensions would be placed right next to the other vital information.

That’s why I couldn’t rest until I had added all this information to the gallery. Now I feel much better.


Walking through the picture clockwise, I meet a figure looking totally different from all the others we saw so far. It is situated right below the  Blue Head whose chin can be identified on this cutout; at left a part of the  Fish can be identified.

The red line and the two red blotches below the fish again represent something like a flower/bloom; however, this is not really clear from this clipping. The center is formed by the head, but likewise the colored structure resembling to a uniform in my eyes stands out. Hence the title of the musing of today.


Between the  Longear and the  wheel we find another mask sitting like a flower on a stalk; in a certain way it is the counterpart to the  Mask in a Flower at left.

In contrast to that one this seems to be much simpler at first glance. Also, as an exception, it looks like a female figure.

The white color of the face and the reddening of the eyes are most conspicuous, although not as dramatic as in the  Blue Head. The red hair falls to the same side and meets the red flower that we talked about recently.


These are the last two figures on this picture, Nos. 6 and 7 — I have combined them as a unit. Somehow they belong together, that’s obvious, and it didn’t seem to be appropriate to cope with them one by one.

Whereas the  Red Hair looks to the right, these two rather look to the left. Both of them don’t look at the beholder, which is pretty clear concerning the left figure, the right one pretty closely misses the shoulder of the beholder.

As a type both of them are again pretty different from everything we saw so far, and not only the near distance gives them the appearance of being a pair — they have certain stylistic similarities.


Well, having spent so much time with all the different figures, I can’t get around it any more. Finally I must deal with the whole painting, but this is still no easy job for me after all that talk.

Take for example the title. Every once in a while I tried to invent titles for my pictures, and all the musings here have their own titles; shouldn’t this consideration deserve a proper title as well? But I couldn’t think of one appropriate for the whole picture, so I stuck with the works number. What could be expressed through the title anyway?


Lots of new entries in the  gallery. Enjoy!

See for example the etchings - tiny as they are, in the middle of huge paintings, they withstand and show monumentality as well.

Also, for the first time, woodcuts and drawings.

to be translated

Es ist zwar schon wieder entsetzlich spät, aber ich möchte mich doch endlich wieder einmal ein bißchen mit Kunst beschäftigen. Bezüglich  242 muß ich aber mal eine kleine Pause einlegen.

In der letzten Woche bin ich über meine Radierungen, Holzschnitte und einen Stapel Zeichnungen gestolpert und habe dies zum Anlaß genommen, die  Galerie ein wenig aufzufüllen. Ich empfehle einen Besuch!


to be translated

Da ich die  Galerie nun aufgefüllt hatte, empfand ich doch das dringende Bedürfnis, hier ein bißchen aufzuräumen und zu gliedern.

Natürlich ist es interessant, eine sehr kleine Radierung direkt neben einem sehr großen Gemälde zu sehen, aber irgendwie scheint es doch sinnvoller, zu gruppieren, zum Beispiel nach Techniken.

Daher habe ich jetzt eine Auswahl eingeführt, grob nach  Öl,  Papier und  Druckgrafik. So kann man sich etwas leichter eine Übersicht verschaffen. Es erscheinen 9 Objekte unter Druckgraphik, 35 unter Öl, 16 unter Papier und 57 insgesamt.


to be translated

Zu  Zeichnungen: Tage später fällt mir auf, daß es diese Art von Köpfen schon längst gab. Ein Beispiel hatte ich schon angeführt:  Blaue Periode.

Eigenartig, daß ich das erst jetzt bemerke. Es ist Jahre her, daß ich die Zeichnung gemacht habe, und Tage, daß ich wieder auf sie gestoßen bin, und nie habe ich die „hnlichkeit wahrgenommen. Auch die schwarze Hintergrundfarbe, die ich durchaus als ungewöhnlich registriert habe, paßt zu den damals üblichen, zwar malerisch bewegten, aber gleichmäßigen Hintergründen, die später vollständig verschwanden und mit allerlei Figuren bevölkert wurden.


Some time ago I tried to interpret of painting  242, using the title  egocentricity. That’s how the term hero came into play.

Hero meant as an inner figure, bright, young, unique, numinous, in contrast to the real person, who could be commonplace, old, sick or ugly. This conception seems to be inherent to man and has been connected to “cosmic conscience” — whatever that may mean.


The path of the hero — which is everybody’s path — is an adventure. It applies to man and women alike and isn’t necessarily a lonely path — helpers and combatants, adversaries and villains may be companions.

Today I found old texts which may tell us what I thought about the subject eight years ago. It seems to be wise to waken them from their long sleep and republish them here.

In 1998, I opened a virtual art fair for the American market under the title » Art Quarter.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 17

47 is a low number. As a rule, a low number indicates that the artist is on his way, but doesn’t know where he is going and what the right direction is. Art is a funny thing. If you knew what it is you could go along and do it right away. So just about everybody could get the Nobel prize or make big money.

To me, it was essential that I let loose. It was hard to accept that my intellect would not produce any piece of art worth mentioning. This is a good example to see that I was successful in letting the picture come. Imagine sitting in front of a piece of paper, all blank, using brush and oil colors. Whatever you do, you can’t correct a thing. You could smear more paint over a bad spot, but that would just kill the painting.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 18

I remember doing this painting in the garden of the house I lived in as a student. Weather was not so good, so I retreated to the car shed when rain came. This work is done in oil colors on fiberboard. With fiberboard, you can paint on the back, and there is another painting on the back, a paraphrase on the paraphrases of Picasso on Manet’s “Déjeuner sur l’Herbe”. I was short on money already, saving on materials, and shortly after that I used industrial paint in cans much cheaper than artist’s paint. I did my first large paintings with this technique, and many of them are destroyed now due to storage problems in cold and humid winters.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 19

This is one of the large paintings with can paint on fiberboard I talked about yesterday. It is a grisaille, done with white and black only. It measures 59×62″, so it is slightly larger than Rembrandt’s Bathsheba I am writing about in the Art Journal. The first advice there was: “It is important to imagine the size of a work. You will never get the impression of the original if you look at a reproduction on the screen or in a book. Imagine the room, too, that this painting demands, the distance you will keep, how you feel when approaching very near, what the impression might be when seen from some distance.”


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 20

This painting is in oil on linen again - in the meantime I had met a painter some 20 years older than I urging me “to do something for eternity”. I bought the best light proof pigments then and made my colors like the medieval artisans myself ever since, saving money this way.

This is one of several paintings featuring two heads only. To be precise, they are mostly of different sex, expression and feelings of men and women being significantly different each. I won’t try to use words to open your eyes, this painting is easy enough. Just look and feel. Instead, I will tell a nice anecdote.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 21

The text addition is a fragment from a rock song, I don’t remember the group, it must be from the early seventies. This is the very next painting after the one I showed yesterday. I was entering a very productive and successful period. Many of these paintings are sold. The painter I mentioned yesterday, his name is Erich Engelbrecht, negotiated with his old mother to let me use his old studio in his parent’s house. I started this painting there, and this was the first I accompanied with snapshots of the development process. I wanted to know what happens, after all, I was a rational scientist, read a lot of C.G. Jung through Engelbrecht, but later on I found that this inspection was extremely harmful. It was a very exciting time, I spend a lot of space recalling it in my memoirs.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 22

Well, I knew it … Yesterday I mentioned the speech opening an exhibition entitled “On observing the creative process.” I told you I used a different painting to illustrate the point. I have to show it today. This is it. There is a nice anecdote, too.

This painting belongs to a friend of my wife, Edith. They knew each other before my wife knew me. My wife Elke is a teacher, and the eldest daughter of Edith was in the first class of Elke. My wife has studied arts, and Edith always dreamt of owning art, so she asked her to accompany her to a gallery some time, giving her advice. They never did, though. Money was scarce, Edith got one child and another and still another and then a fourth.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 23

Something new! A sculpture, animated gif. Open the image in your browser if it does not move. It’s a slide show, showing the sculpture from different sides.

Normally, sculptures are shown from one side only. That’s bad. After all, it’s a 3 dimensional thing. When Michelangelo discovered the famous antique sculpture “Laokoon and his children”, people discussed it very controversial. It is best seen from one side only, from the front, and it can be argued if it is rather a relief than a sculpture. A sculpture ought to have interesting views from all angles.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 24

In February 1983, I had my first exhibition. Right in a Museum. Great start. One man show. Wasn’t meant that way, but the other artist did not want to show with an “amateur”, so I got my own. Even hung too narrow, so it was no problem for me to fill all the rooms. The director wanted to buy a painting, too. A drawing would have been priced right, but unfortunately be lost in a drawer. It had to be a painting. The painting chosen was too expensive. So the above was second choice, the deal was made perfect. My first painting in the posession of a museum. One single large head, 39×58″. Not too enigmatic. No complicated story. Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Dueren, Germany.

See also new scan  256

Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 25

Another one of the two head thread. Remember the blue heads I sent Tuesday last week? Different mood here.

People often think of pictures as being descriptive. There has to be a story behind it. Probably personal. What did the painter aim at? What does he want to communicate?

In particular, with such a woman / man image, they suspect that this must be some kind of a portrait, a depiction of the personal story of the artist and his wife, to be precise. I’m afraid, this is not the case with my paintings.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 26

The artist as a young man … Eyes wide open of no particular reason. I did not even realize it. My friends wondered why it was not that much me as it should. Something was wrong. Then they found out - eyes wide open. From staring at the mirror. Of course, normally my eyelids are rather half closed than that much open.

But this was not one of the typical mistakes I write about in Creative Journal 1.3. I did not learn anything formal in art except what my old teacher at school taught me, but I knew the trick taking proportions with stretched arm and brush. Here I look and see proportions and paint what I see, so the picture is quite realistic on the whole, except for the eyes which are correct, too, for that reason of staring.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 27

Another self portrait. Finished without mirror, though. I really used those self portraits as a starting point. I don’t know when I did the last one, it must have been back in 1973. And I don’t think I will ever do one again in my life.

Rembrandt and Beckmann are famous for doing self portraits all their life, others have done, too. Picasso is famous for not doing them except on rare occasions in younger days.

When I was young, I had some trouble finding out what art is all about. At age 12 or 14, my parents gave me oil colors as a Christmas gift, and I copied some van Goghs. Then I quit painting, being sick of good advice, and when I left home at age 18, I took my colors with me to do what I pleased, at least.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 28

Time to leave those old times … Long time ago … Was a young man then … Nostalgic feelings, looking back …

Something new: This is a recent drawing. High number. And another self portrait.

No mistake. I’m never sitting in front of a mirror. But I can’t help, it’s always me. I didn’t realize, though. Back in the seventies, when my first wife was still with me, I did a painting with a dancing woman and a man obviously adoring her.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 29

Now let’s have a look at this one … Here again all those animals … Remember the lively birds from yesterday’s choice? Now look at this little dragon, isn’t he cute? Those pigeons bill and coo, sitting on the hero’s hat, who in turn doesn’t seem to notice all these beasts. Did you discover that dangerous red snake winding along the hero’s neck?

This hero isn’t what you would think of a hero normally. No Sylvester Stallone type. Even not a Crocodile Dundee type. Or Indiana Jones or James Bond, you name it. Modern movies are full of heroes. Our soul seems to be in need of heroes. This guy is not a real hero at all. He is reluctant. He does not look into the world eager to leave his imprint, he looks inwardly.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 30

This one is not so cute … From the work number, you can see that it’s done before the last one. Actually, there are many similarities, but the differences come more easily to mind. This one is rude, brutal, but … if you look at it for some time, it’s just beautiful and great!

It’s hanging on a wall in my family’s flat, and if you live with a painting, you will feel its presence, but you will most often not look directly at it. You find out when returning from vacation or when taking it off: You miss it.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 31

Again, one picture back in time. This one is done right before the one presented yesterday. People crowd the canvas. Steep high format. You might not notice from that bad, small scan, but there is a snake there sneaking around the head of the hero, and a dark green beast sitting on his shoulder, being caressed by the young blonde, and it is not a dragon, not a devil’s dog, it is a cat.

This cat is very much catlike. One of the wonders of this world: Everything is extremely specific in each of its appearances, you know at once what is is, or rather: Your right brain knows it.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 32

Yesterday we were in a crowd, today, another few numbers back in time, we face two guys up front. The painting is mid sized, 38×57″, so the faces are more than lifesize. Colors are a bit too warm from my old scanner, ought to do it anew but ain’t got the time. Anyway, colors are a problem, not only on a monitor, in books, too, and we still improve. I always wonder how beautifully it can be done today, and how cheap it is. Take any book from the 50ies, colors are just funny, and back in the 30ies everything was black and white only. We do live in a great time.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 33

Something nice ‘n easy today. A still life. Not very common in my oeuvre. At Christmas 1984, I got Max Beckmann’s diary from my wife. Being one of my favorites, it fascinated me. He did some landscapes and still lifes, too, in his life, and as it turned out, he did not value these things very high. He did them mainly for sales purposes, but nevertheless they are great.

I remember a visit at the eminent Cologne art fair in the 90ies. I wandered for hours and saw thousands of works, was quite tired soon. Then I came to the booth of a New York gallery. They had fine works all over, but one tiny interior of Max Beckmann stuck out clearly. I returned to that booth twice to see this one. It was really small, just like the painting of today (8×12″), but it overwhelmed the whole stand. I had never seen it before and have never since. It was much better than anything else they had to offer. I never approached this painting, it was perfectly fine from some distance.


Originally published in 1998 as » Daily Drawing Nr. 34

Big mama isn’t quite what comes to mind with this painting … I choose this painting today because I wanted to have something simple and this painting is obliged to Beckmann, too, like yesterday’s painting. Now it is a woman, and she is mature, but it cannot be seen if she is a mother. I guess she is what the Romans called matron (my WordWeb thesaurus/dictionary - highly recommended - says: married woman (usually middle-aged with children) who is staid and dignified).


Originally published in 1998 as » Weekly Work Nr. 35

First: Please be patient with my German English. Second: Things have changed… It is more than 3 weeks now that I started this issue. It was scheduled Aug. 31. What happened?

I started this way:

A new week starts today, I had a two day break from Daily Drawing but not from computing… I informed you of the problems I got with the list server at of I set up another test list this morning, unmoderated, and sent the Friday Daily Drawing which I received fine.


Originally published in 1998 as » Weekly Work Nr. 36

First: My native language is German. Experienced marketers think I should inform you. Second: My last week was filled with promotion and email, but I’m back to normal with my load of stress. Nobody complained about reduction of frequency. Thank you for your sympathy.

I have a preface to my other journals, and there I say:

It is for you and all the great masters that I do this work, and I hope you will enjoy it.


Originally published in 1998 as » Weekly Work Nr. 37

You know, my native language is German (not fishing for compliments). Last week, I asked you some questions, but answers were next to none. Ok, I live with it, let’s go on.

This week, I chose  291, a large painting I enjoyed long hanging on various walls in my office and home. When I had my first exhibition at Leopold-Hoesch-Museum Dueren, I made contact with radio journalist Friedrich Riehl, who is a photographer also. He made an informal improvised one shot interview with me which was broadcast as it was taken, without rehearsal or correction.


Originally published in 1998 as » Weekly Work Nr. 38

Last week, I showed  291 together with a photograph of me and two paintings hanging on the easel in very early stages, namely  291 and  292 ( Burning Candle). It is quite natural to carry on with the latter.


Originally published in 1998 as » Weekly Work Nr. 39

Last week, I talked about esoteric astrology and psychology to understand the peculiar dragon puppet in painting 292. I tried to relate to you that I have trouble to understand what the painting means just as well as you. The painting is nothing I know beforehand, it develops under my hands, and if it is finished, I let it do its work. How can this be with the painting above?

We learnt last week, that people can be understood as a bunch of characters like in a Punch and Judy show, all working within the same person at the same time, kind of a multiple personality. Three of them were part of that painting, king, robber and crocodile.


Originally published in 1998 as » Weekly Work Nr. 40

Last week, I talked about the Nanas and the Tarot Garden of Niki de St.Phalle and told you that I couldn’t find anything about it on the web. I couldn’t forget the idea to present the Tarot Garden on the internet. You can read how I finally found out that Niki had created a site on the Tarot Garden herself in Monday Magazine (» Nanas Celebrate The Secrets Of Life, draft).

Funny as it is, I got notice of another Tarot on the web through a business newsletter called Silicon Valley Tarot. Contrary to Niki’s Tarot, you can’t expose yourself very efficiently to this Tarot card deck, and the artistic value isn’t that high. But you can use it, although you shouldn’t take it too seriously.


Originally published in 1998 as » Weekly Work Nr. 41

This week, I’ll celebrate our well known artist Joe. Joe Doe was chosen to be the featured artist of the month November by ArtQuest. ArtQuest gives away one painting of the featured artist. In this case it is painting 608, and therefore also our painting of the week. On the occasion, I will give some more examples of his art.


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In diesem Jahr wollte ich mir mal wieder einige Ausstellungen ansehen, in Düsseldorf das Spätwerk Picassos, in Osnabrück die Reproduktion von Guernica, in Münster das Picasso Museum Antibes, in Amsterdam Max Beckmann, im van Gogh-Museum.

Das Spätwerk Picassos in Düsseldorf habe ich verpaßt (Picasso - Malen gegen die Zeit, 3.2.-10.6.2007, Katalog » Painting against Time). Schade, oder? Meine Beschäftigung mit Picasso fing noch zu seinen Lebzeiten an. Die erste Übersicht in Buchform erschien 1971, » Picasso Laureatus von Klaus Gallwitz, ich glaube, ich habe es mir 1974 gekauft und versucht zu verstehen, was er da machte. Es war mir ähnlich fremd wie die neueste Musik von Miles Davis, die ich aber mit einiger Anstrengung schätzen gelernt hatte.


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Die meisten Menschen haben vermutlich Probleme, die Gemälde aus Picassos Spätzeit zu schätzen. Es ist ja nicht nur so, daß diese Bilder einfach schnell gemalt sind, wie Werner Spies meint; das ist beileibe nicht das Problem. Man kann mit dem Bleistift oder der Radiernadel in weniger als einer Sekunde ein Meisterwerk hinlegen. Es gibt davon eine ganze Menge im Werk Picassos, und das zeichnerische Werk des Alters zeigt ja auch, daß er immer noch im Vollbesitz seiner Möglichkeiten war.

Ich schlage zum Beispiel willkürlich den » Vernissage-Katalog 01/07 auf, der die Ausstellung in Düsseldorf (Malen gegen die Zeit) begleitet hat, und sehe auf den Seiten 40/41 eine Radierung in leichter Vergrößerung, nämlich Blatt 317 aus der Suite 347 vom 8. September 1968 (II), betitelt “Raffael und die Fornarina XXII”.


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Die Radierung “Raffael und die Fornarina XXII” ist die erste Illustration zum Artikel “Die späten Grafiken Picassos: Existenzbeweise, tausendfach” von Dr. Frank Laukötter, wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am » K20, abgedruckt im Heft Nr. 01/07 von » Vernissage. Der Aufsatz wird damit eingeleitet, daß die schiere Fülle an Werken in den letzten zehn Jahren seines Lebens herausgestrichen wird. Während er bis zum 80. Geburtstag alle zwei Tage ein neues Werk fertigstellte, war die Frequenz danach doppelt so hoch. Das wird mit der zunehmenden Todesangst erklärt, wie schon im Titel angedeutet; er wird aber auch dahingehend zitiert, daß er zwar weniger Zeit, aber mehr zu sagen habe.

Was das denn nun sei, müßte doch die Hauptfrage sein. Aber genau diese Frage kann nicht beantwortet werden. Statt dessen werden Anekdoten erzählt. Der Leser bleibt ratlos zurück. Picasso wird als Übergenie geschildert, der jenseits aller Kritik steht. Das tut ihm natürlich nicht gut. Schon zu Lebzeiten hatte » John Berger bedauert, daß man die offensichtlichen Aussagen nicht hören wollte, die Augen verschlossen hat vor den Hilferufen des Künstlers, der ja nun wirklich sein Innerstes nach außen gekehrt und seine Not jedermann kundgetan hat (» Glanz und Elend des Malers Pablo Picasso). Berger wird von der Kunstkritik natürlich nicht ernstgenommen.

Da ich nun einmal herumstöberte, erwarb ich auch den » Ausstellungskatalog zum hundertsten Geburtstag, Werke aus der Sammlung Marina Picasso. Darin findet sich der Aufsatz “Picassos Kubismus 1907-1922″ von Reinhold Hohl. Auf Seite 67 schreibt er:

Die Analyse von Picassos kubistischer “écriture” (so heißt im Moment das Schlagwort) ist modischer Tribut des Zeitgeistes an das bildnerische Phänomen “Kubismus” - genauso wie die eine Zeitlang im Schwang gewesene materialistisch-dialektische Betrachtungsweise (von Max Raphael) oder die soziologisch-biographischen Aperçus (von John Berger) und auch die aktuellen feministischen und die pseudo-psychoanalytischen Perspektiven (wonach etwa das Gemälde Les Demoiselles d’Avignon ein gegen die Frauen allgemein und die dominierende Mutter sowie die nachgeborene Schwester Lola besonders gerichteter Akt der Hexenaustreibung gewesen sei, und der ganze Kubismus überhaupt eine Manifestation von Picassos, des Malersohns, Oedipus-Komplex… - wir verschweigen Autorennamen). Das alles beweist, daß davor siebzig Jahren ein Riesen Berge in die Landschaft der Malerei Geschichte gestellt worden ist, der noch immer - von immer anderen Ausgangspunkten her und mit immer neuer Ausrüstung - zu Erstbesteigungen verlockt.


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“Das muß man doch sagen und schreiben!” hatte ich in meinem letzten Beitrag vor ein paar Tagen formuliert. Aber inzwischen denke ich darüber anders. Man muß überhaupt nicht darüber urteilen, wenigstens nicht öffentlich. Jeder bildet sich sowieso sein Urteil selbst, und wer heute nicht drauf kommt, sieht es vielleicht morgen, oder auch gar nicht. Warum sollte er auch? Im Gegenteil, er kann doch das hervorragend finden, was ich für völlig unmöglich halte, oder?

Es wäre außerdem denkbar, daß das von mir verworfene Werk eine Qualität enthält, die ich nicht wahrnehmen kann. Möglicherweise liegt diese völlig außerhalb meiner Möglichkeiten, oder aber ich könnte sie mir erschließen, wenn ich denn Zeit hätte und eine Gelegenheit sich ergäbe und ich genug Interesse aufbringen könnte. Ging es mir denn mit der Musik von » Miles Davis nicht ebenso? Hatte ich nicht mit seinen Werken Anfang der 70er Jahre, die ich heute für seine besten halte, anfangs die größten Probleme?

Vor ein paar Tagen habe ich es noch einmal mit » probiert und sie spielten zufällig ein mir wohlbekanntes Stück aus einem Fillmore-Album (» Black Beauty: Miles Davis at Fillmore West - ich glaube, es war » Spanish Key/The Theme). Das war die Musik, die damals hörte, und ich genoß sie wieder einmal sehr.

Anschließend habe ich mir bei Amazon angeschaut, was die Experten dazu sagen. Es ging wie Kraut und Rüben durcheinander. Manche fanden es schlecht, manche gut, die meisten fanden manches gut und vieles schlecht, und insbesondere der Saxophonist Steve Grossman wurde stark kritisiert. Ich konnte das nicht nachvollziehen, für mich war die Musik eigentlich jenseits der Kritik, einfach nur gut, so wie sie war. Der letzte Beitrag versucht ein bißchen zu vermitteln:

Steve Grossman’s playing isn’t so bad as other’s have made out though it does sound a little thin after hearing Wayne Shorter blow his tenor to pieces on the Fillmore East release. […] It is interesting to hear Chick encourage him on Directions, the opening track. When Grossman seems to stall, you can hear Corea chime in and start some dialog with him and get his solo moving again.

» all reviews


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Es ist also das Rätsel der Kreativität, das mich umtreibt. » Sigmund Freud interessierte sich dafür, » C. G. Jung und viele andere, aber herausbekommen haben sie wenig. Freud meinte etwas über die Kreativität sagen zu können, indem er sich mit » Leonardo beschäftigte und dessen Geier-Traum analysierte, aber mehr als eine Anekdote kam dabei nicht heraus (» Anna Selbdritt, » Das geheime Leben des Leonardo da Vinci). C. G. Jung pflegte sehr ausgeprägte Träume zu haben und malte diese und führte die Technik des Malens von Träumen in seine Analytische Psychologie ein, aber ich wüßte nicht, daß dabei jemals ein Kunstwerk entstanden wäre. Die Bilder von Jung haben etwas ähnlich Dilettantisches und zutiefst Unbefriedigendes wie die von » Hermann Hesse.

Berühmt sind die Thesen des Gestaltpsychologen » Rudolf Arnheim, der in seiner Untersuchung des Entstehungsprozesses von » Guernica meinte herausfinden zu können, wie Kreativität sich vollzieht. Glücklicherweise fertigte » Picasso viele Studien an, seine Freundin » Dora Maar hielt einzelne Phasen fotografisch fest. Hat Arnheim etwas über die Kreativität herausgefunden? Ich hatte nicht den Eindruck. Er ließ sich durch Picassos Arbeitsweise inspirieren und meinte, dieser habe die Lösung durch Versuch und Irrtum gefunden, durch systematisches Testen von Bildideen, durch provozierende Überschreitungen des Gewohnten. Diese Untersuchung entstand Anfang der sechziger Jahre des letzten Jahrhunderts und wird immer wieder neu aufgelegt, seither sind fast fünfzig Jahre vergangen. Die Kreativitätsforschung tappt immer noch im Dunkeln.

Picasso selber hegte die Vorstellung, daß man der Kreativität eines Tages auf die Schliche kommen werde. Deshalb begann er in den dreißiger Jahren, alles genau zu datieren. Wenn er mehrere Arbeiten am selben Tag vollendete, setzte er römische Ziffern hinzu. Das gefiel mir sehr gut, und deshalb habe ich dieses System Anfang der siebziger Jahre übernommen. Als ich Anfang der 80er ein Werkverzeichnis anlegte, half mir diese Datierung sehr. Interessanterweise stellte sich heraus, daß mein Gedächtnis mich im Stich gelassen hatte. Die Entwicklung vollzog sich viel sprunghafter, als ich das in Erinnerung hatte.

Natürlich mußte ich ebenfalls in die Falle laufen, der Kreativität auf die Schliche kommen zu wollen. Das war eine sehr schmerzhafte Erfahrung, und merkwürdigerweise war es ein Traum, der mir die Augen öffnete. Aber das ist wieder eine andere Geschichte. Die heutige Kreativitätsforschung geht, wenn ich das richtig sehe, davon aus, daß das Gehirn eine Art Maschine ist, in der alle möglichen Gefühle und Erlebnisse und Erkenntnisse und Eindrücke abgelegt sind. Kreativität entsteht demnach dann, wenn aus diesen Rohmaterialien durch ungewöhnliche Assoziationen neue Zusammenhänge entstehen. Daher leiten sich aus dieser Vorstellung entsprechende Techniken ab, etwa » Brainstorming. Merkwürdig nur, daß so wenig Kreatives dabei entsteht. Wenn die Forscher genauer hinschauen würden, kämen sie nicht auf die Idee, so etwas Primitives zu verkünden. Es gibt genug Zeugnisse auch von Wissenschaftlern, die belegen, daß Kreativität eben gerade nicht so entsteht, sondern vielmehr von irgendwo anders her, ganz plötzlich, dem angeblich Kreativen als etwas Fremdes gegenübertritt.

Die Skizzen Picassos tragen das ihre dazu bei, diese Vorstellung zu untermauern. Denn ganz offensichtlich hat Picasso immer wieder versucht, sich selbst zu überraschen, indem er ganz bewußt neue Wege gegangen ist. Das kann man zum Beispiel an den Skizzen zu Guernica sehen, wenn er etwa ein zusammenbrechendes Pferd naturalistisch zeichnet und im nächsten Augenblick eine primitive Gerüstskizze eines Pferdes hinlegt, die eines Vierjährigen würdig wäre. Oder er zeichnet ein ganzes Blatt voller Augen, wobei er ständig kleine Variationen vornimmt, in der Hoffnung, auf diese Weise eine perfekte Form zu finden. Klappt natürlich nicht, es bleiben banale Fingerübungen, beeindruckend, weil sie zeigen, daß auch ein Genie arbeitet, aber nicht, weil sie die Kreativität zum Vorschein bringen, im Gegenteil. Sie zeigen, daß man auf diese Weise eben gerade nicht kreativ wird.


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