An old sketchbook ….

cigarette ephemera

….transience and other things

Before I write about my old sketchbook, I would like to write briefly about something indicated in my last blog post. It was all about #WordlessWednesday. When I learned about this campaign by accident I thought it was a nice idea: once a week people from all over the world post a photo, tag it with a hashtag in the title, and then it appears on social media like Twitter or Instagram. Simple conditions: only your own photo, no blog text, a photo that speaks for itself or tells a story.


As much as I like the idea in general, I’m not sure if this works the way it should. So I’ll be posting photos to #WordlessWednesday for a few weeks and then see if it makes sense. [1]

Summer is here and with impressive temperatures. Time for a little vacation, time to prepare for my next exhibition, clean up my desk, and do other stuff. This also includes revamping my catalog. Some pages are already presented in a new look like key works, landscape paintings, or portrait paintings…..So I’m going to take a little break from posting as well.

The Sketchbook

I can’t deny it, sometimes I act a bit strange, so in this case with the sketchbook. I bought it at a small flea market in Paris over 40 years ago. I noticed it immediately, saw that it was empty with good paper, and bought it. I still know today what it cost. This is because I ate a French onion soup in a small bistro immediately after visiting the flea market and it cost as much as the sketchbook – a few dollars. When I got home I took a closer look at the pad and saw that it was the finest Ingres paper, and it was made by Fabriano company, which means top quality to me. So I never dared to use it.

old french sketchbook
old French “carnet de chaise” chair notebook and one of the artworks


Some time ago, more than 40 years later, I realized that the book would soon be left unused anyway and I finally decided to use it for sketches and tiny graphics. Only 10-12 by now, because now I’m afraid of destroying the development, which has been quite satisfactory so far, with bad work. I hope it won’t be another 40 years before I dare to continue 🙂

collage with mao and hitler stamps

Selection of works

The works are deliberate of a very different nature and largely speak for themselves. However, I would like to make a few comments on one work related to smoking. 4 small pieces of paper were glued in and took up something like the subject of transience in different ways. The smallest are cigarette butts. The top one of a brand that was never commercially available and was only accessible to the top of China’s political elite. So its name is Zhongnanhai (中南海)). A little stub to think about! [2] The bottom one is from an Austrian brand that had to be discontinued as the name could potentially encourage someone to smoke: Meine Sorte (My brand).

cigarette ephemera


The red cigarette pack – a good opposite – advertises itself with babies and house cats. It was in commerce in the late 1760-70s. That was a period when we in the West too were not really over-sensitized to smoking either. One remembers the usual smoking on public transport and airplanes, yes even in the corridors of hospitals. So this pack represents a certain affront to today’s thinking.
Just like the Austrian performance artist pictured on the b/w stamp next to it: Valie Export [3]. For many years ostracized as the enfant terrible, today she is a figurehead of Austrian modern art.

Special excitement caused her action “Expanded Cinema”.

VALIE EXPORT, Tapp und Tastkino, 1968-71, performance, © ADAGP, Paris

enfant terrible


Export’s well-known performance piece Tapp-und-Tast-Kino (Tap and Touch Cinema) was performed in ten European cities, including Vienna and Munich, from 1968 to 1971. For this bodily public performance, Export wandered the streets of cities with a “Small mock-up of a [movie] theater,” first made of Styrofoam and later remade in aluminum, strapped to her bare chest. Peter Weibel, her collaborator, invited passersby to “‘visit the cinema’ for five minutes” by reaching into the “theater” and feeling her bare breasts. [4]

So this small page in my sketchbook puts 4 small objects next to each other, which superficially only have to do with smoking, but have all become popular to no-go and vice versa.


Another of the pages in my sketchbook shows my first and only ready-made. It is of Japanese origin, a page from a stamp dealer’s hand-bound booklet.

antique japanese postal card

For the next one: I started a series of different techniques and sizes…: “The Chinese Takeover”. This is temporarily on hold because I want to wait for some political and social developments. The “Made in China” work would be one of them.

collage made in china
Made in China

extra

As a little extra today, I would like to mention another action by Valie Export, which – at a time when the word feminism was only known to a small group of people here in conservative Austria – looked very far into the future.

Peter Weibel, Valie Export, Aus der Mappe der Hundigkeit, Kärntnerstrasse, Wien, Februar 1968.

footnotes

[1] Another ulterior motive is that this campaign will appeal to people outside of the WordPress community and thus attract new interested parties.

[2] In 2017, Xi Jinping hosted a grand banquet for Donald Trump, the first Western statesman, in this city within a city, which is otherwise strictly forbidden to foreigners.
[3] Real name: Waltraud Lehner. her stage name Valie Export combines a form of Waltraud and a cigarette brand that was popular at the time: Smart Export
[4] The text quoted is from Wikipedia

Zettl Fine Arts

paintings graphics calligraphy

12 comments on “An old sketchbook ….

A fine story for a very precious sketchbook !

Thank you! One sees that you are a lover of sketchbooks 🙂

There is a certain nostalgic propaganda about the stamps and cigarette package that I like.

Thank you! Yes, I thought so. Ephemera have a lot to tell….

Bravo! The humble things most discard are a kind of lost history. My compliments on your project.

Thank you very much! I have been collecting ephemera for many years. They are like a mirror of our history.

Fascinating objects, ideas and images. Valie Export must have shocked a few people! Thank you for this interesting post.

Thank you very much! Yes, she shocked for sure. But she was not the only one.

Fabulous photos, fascinating pieces and fantastic writing. So very interesting!

Thank you so much! I am happy our enjoyed it!

Isn’t it funny how we are afraid to “spoil” new sketchbooks! I completely understand especially one with such a history! Have fun with it 😊

🙂 Of course, I’m aware of how stupid my “fear” is, especially since it’s just a workbook for my own enjoyment anyway.

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