Drawing (19) from THE BASIS OF MAKE-UP

"My first day of school in Lower-Saxony in 1954, with my step-grandpa before a hedge and a silver fir in our front garden at the newly laid-out stone garden. He told me about an Iron Curtain straight across Germany. I conceived its construction as a screwed steel-girder frame. I asked myself how it could be hung up in the sky. On the other end it was certainly anchored deep in the ground. "EV" = Eiserner Vorhang (Iron Curtain) = e.V. = eingeschriebener Verein (registered society) = ev. = evangelisch (Protestant). "2" is the grade my teacher usually noted down in the bottom right corner of my drawings. 1 = excellent, 2 = good, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = passing, 5 = failure, 6 = unsatisfactory. "4" was our street number At the Railway Embankment behind the hedge. "22" has always been my favorite number. The cloth for the slate blackboard is hanging from the knapsack on my back. The transparent bread-car is a symbol of the sweet, light-brown soup made of bread crusts that my grandmother often cooked for us at the time." (From: arsenal, december 10).


In RAW 1/1980 this drawing was published under the title ONE PANEL FROM THE BASIS OF MAKE-UP with the following text: "Peaceful gathering in front of hedge and silver fir at the newly planned stone-bed, 1955. My grandpa and me, just back from the inaugural ceremony for the rebuilt bridge across the river Weser...

... He called me 'Quälgeist' ('torment-ghost', nuisance, pest, plague) whenever I tried to caress his smooth, bald head. The former bridge probably had been blown up by his friends in the last days of the war to prevent the English soldiers from capturing our village. The new one, later, around 1967, served as a shooting location for the film How I Won the War, and one actor in it, dressed like a German soldier, carried a huge and framed reproduction of a Picasso painting across it, so queer. My grandpa told me about an iron curtain straight through the middle of Germany. I pictured its steel construction in the style of the Weserbridge but wondered where it could hang from in the sky. On the other hand it most likely reached very deep into the ground. EV = Eiserner Vorhang (Iron Curtain) = e.V. = eingeschriebener Verein (non-profit society) = ev. = evangelisch (to be of Protestant religion). 2 is a  number a schoolmistress very often wrote into the right corner of my drawings – it means: good. (Scale: 1 = very good, 2 = good, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = sufficient, 5 = faulty, 6 = insufficient). 4 was the number of the house I lived in on the street Am Bahndamm (At the railroad embankment).  In the satchel seen on my back were the following six drawings: DIE AMERIKANISCHE KÜSTE (The American Coast) with steamship 'Bremen'. Big quarrel about the sharkfin with my sister. She insisted on the impossibility of sharks before the  American shore. I in turn stated I had seen such a fin in an illustration showing Manhattan in the Bertelsmann Volkslexikon (a 'People's Dictionary', my one and only book). Despite weeklong searches I could not find the illustration again in that infinite book. I loved everything from 'Amerika' especially the CARE-parcels. I thought they were sent by a distant cousin who in my imagination worked as a house detective at the New York branch of Woolworth's. The most enchanting parcel was filled with one package of Maxwell House coffee and nothing else but 22 broad and bright silken ties which probably had been worn by my cousin on duty. The grown-ups preferred something to eat. The ties, anyhow, were too indecent to wear. So, my grandma cooked that thickish, sweet, light brown soup made out of bread leftovers, in whose memory I placed a bread-car in this drawing; KINDERGARTEN, one wish, a playground on a meadow, and the result: antlike, guarded children behind a tremendous gate; DEUTSCHLAND, SOWJETUNION, ENGLAND, three different tank models from three competing nations. The one from the Soviet Union naturally had the most progressive design; GERMANY, a castle constrained with jagged wall, outside the gates: Nothing."

More Drawings