I recently returned from my travels. It is great to be back with family, but I am still in denial about being back in the USA. I suspect that I saw about 30,000 prints in all, many done between 1914-1918, but I took time in some collections to look extensively at early ornament prints and to look at landscape images from the “age of Goethe,” namely the eighteenth and early nineteenth-centuries. Some of the more striking works I have seen include a literal rendering of a bombed factory with all of its huge iron gears exposed looking, for all the world, like an abstraction by Robert Michel (the WW I pilot who crashed his plane and then recovered in Weimar where he became an early member of the Bauhaus); a portfolio about the suffering of horses in the war; a 1918 portfolio of woodcuts and linoleum cuts made by a German artist in a U.S. prisoner of war camp in Georgia; elaborate, sixteenth-century geometrical fantasies in woodcut; and some of the more sublime images of great oaks, living and dead, ever conceived.
Until the outmoded concept of image copyright sorts itself out or is altogether abandoned I will share, instead of the works described above, these four stencil prints that are unquestionably in the public domain -- I saw them on the walls of the train station in Wolfegg. They tell a complex story.
My last stop was Stuttgart, whose Staatsgalerie has a remarkable collection of graphic arts (the top two floors are visible in this photograph). In addition to working with their deep collection I made weekend trips with a friend and excellent guide to the Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim and to Ludwigsburg Palace, residence of the dukes of Württemberg. At the latter, which houses many collections, I noticed an eighteenth-century fan that had been decorated with prints.
I want to thank the many colleagues and other friends who helped me over the past two months. I’ve learned a lot from you all: that 500-year-old prints can be found stuck in the masonry of old buildings, that one can find art while looking for turtles (or prints, while taking piano lessons), that grapefruit can be eaten with curries and ground chili peppers, that printing with gun powder is as dangerous as it sounds, that printroom staff can and probably should include a dog, and that you have not given up on us perhaps because you remember that when you were very very young an American soldier standing across the street in your bombed city smiled and offered you a stick of gum.