Fischl, Weiss

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Peter Fischli and David Weiss
Plötzlich diese Übersicht (Catalogue Raisonné)

Plötzlich diese Übersicht is a loose collection of over 350 hand-sculpted, unfired clay figures, is one of those artworks that is very familiar even to those who are not all that interested in art.

Fischli and Weiss have created a masterpiece, using an entirely unspectacular material to form sculptural snapshots that sparkle with cheerful wit: sketched models of everyday situations and objects; clay reproductions that reveal the absurdity and artificial normality of the ordinary.

Alongside them are semi-freely imagined scenes and events from history, culture, entertainment, sport and assorted memories from their own biographies, immortalised in emblematic scenarios.

The titles, with their characteristic subtle mockery, fragmentary encyclopadic knowledge and serious irony, are an integral part of the work.

This expansive catalogue raisonné art book gives an overview of the ‘Overview’. Moreover, the superb illustrations reveal the sculptural aspect of this multipartite work, begun in 1981, the quality and continued relevance of which goes beyond the sly humour of language and creative skill.

English edition.

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Robert Walser
Microscripts

Swiss writer Robert Walser (1878-1956) worked as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle, and an inventor’s assistant, and produced nine novels and more than a thousand stories. He stopped writing in 1933 when he was hospitalized for mental illness, declaring, “I am not here to write, but to be mad.”

Robert Walser wrote many of his manuscripts in a highly enigmatic, shrunken-down form. These narrow strips of paper (many of them written during his hospitalization in the Waldau sanatorium) covered with tiny ant-like markings only a millimeter or two high, came to light only after the author’s death in 1956. At first considered a secret code, the microscripts were eventually discovered to be a radically miniaturized form of a Germanic script: a whole story could fit on the back of a business card. Selected from the six-volume German transcriptions from the original microscripts, these twenty-five short pieces are gathered in this gorgeously illustrated co-publication with the Christine Burgin Gallery. Each microscript is reproduced in full color in its original form: the detached cover of a trashy crime novel, a disappointing letter, a receipt of payment. Sometimes Walser used the pages of small tear-off calendars (but only after cutting them lengthwise and filling up each half with text). Schnapps, rotten husbands, small town life, the radio, pigs (and how none of us can deny being one), jealousy, Van Gogh and marriage proposals are some of Walser’s subjects. These texts take strength from Walser’s motto: “To be small and to stay small.”

W.G. Sebald called Robert Walser “a clairvoyant of the small,” and nowhere is the phrase more apt than in his “microscripts.”

“The incredible shrinking writer is a major twentieth-century prose artist who, for all that the modern world seems to have passed him by, fulfills the modern criterion: he sounds like nobody else.” — Benjamin Kunkel, The New Yorker

“One of the profoundest products of modern literature.” – Walter Benjamin

Translated by Susan Bernofsky.  Contributions by Walter Benjamin.

Prize-winning translator Susan Bernofsky has translated numerous works by Robert Walser including The Microscripts, The Tanners, and The Assistant. She is currently at work on a biography of Robert Walser

Walter Benjamin was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and is the author of Illuminations, The Arcades Project, and The Origin of German Tragic Drama.

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A Little Ramble: In the Spirit of Robert Walser

Contemporary artists respond to the work of Robert Walser.

A Little Ramble: In the Spirit of Robert Walser was initiated by the gallerist Donald Young, who saw in Robert Walser an exemplary figure through whom connections between art and literature could be discussed anew. He invited a group of artists to create and exhibit work in response to the writings of Robert Walser. This book is a result of that collaboration.

A Little Ramble is a Walser reader of material chosen by the artists. There are Walser love stories discovered by Thomas Schütte in the 70s appearing here for the first time in English, translated by Susan Bernofsky; the poem Snow which inspired Rosemarie Trockel also newly translated for this edition by Christopher Middleton; the little known Walser story A Painter’s Life illustrated by Josiah McElheny; Pantoums by Rodney Graham based on the first line of Walser’s Berlin stories and excerpts from Wandering with Walser, conversations with Walser recorded by his guardian, Carl Seelig, chosen by Moyra Davey to name only a few. Also included in the book is an afterword by Lynne Cooke and an introduction by Donald Young.

Robert Walser (1878–1956) was born in Switzerland. He left school at fourteen and led a wandering and precarious existence working as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle, and an inventor’s assistant while producing essays, stories, and novels. In 1933 he abandoned writing and entered a sanatorium—where he remained for the rest of his life. “I am not here to write,” Walser said, “but to be mad.”

Distinguished poet and translator Christopher Middleton lives in Austin, Texas. His awards include the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Schegel-Tieck Translation Prize.

Prize-winning translator Susan Bernofsky has translated numerous works by Robert Walser including The Microscripts, The Tanners, and The Assistant. She is currently at work on a biography of Robert Walser

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