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Straight talking about the poster: Something is wrong in Germany.
Introductory speech by Prof. Kurt Weidemann (excerpt)

Do we have to accept that we increasingly live in a society in which we know the price of everything and the value of nothing? We are living in a grasping society, in which the distribution battles are getting tougher, in which the common good is left to the state and one's own well-being is sullenly and ill-temperedly bemoaned.

What is becoming more expensive or more heavily taxed or rationalised away on the material side is precisely registered and loudly complained about. What is happening on the much worse side, what is destroying the spiritual substance and the personality structure in terms of meaning and cultural values, is not noticed and hardly complained about.

The machines of phrase-mongering are running in three shifts, talking us up and leaving us empty. The word "culture" has been inflated and misused, and people talk about philosophy, corporate philosophy, when someone delivers a few sentences without an accident that have nothing to do directly with turnover and profit.

So we have to meet in a somewhat conspirational manner, as we do here, in order to delight our eyes, to enchant our minds, to nourish our spirits. Where can we still find poster art? In collections, design archives, museums and galleries. Cared for and registered so that one day our grandchildren can be shown what it was all about. On the poster pillars and large-format walls, wagon-wheel-sized pancake dumplings, multi-storey Mac Donald's snacks, drop-shod, foaming beer glasses and occasionally the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park tempt us.

Posters are highwaymen. Their prey are eyeballs they want to attract and overwhelmingly their messages are wishful alarm clocks. They cannot choose who pays attention to them or walks past them.  ... The best that this republic and its neighbours have to offer in the broad field of graphic design comes from the poster artists. It is a pity that the potential and potent clients do not make use of it. Those who would like to: Theatres, cultural organisers, state galleries have no money and as an individual minority are most conveniently subject to budget cuts.

The sales chiefs, marketing directors, advertising fuzzies are turnover service providers on the product. In the boards of directors, the best is talked down, discussed away. In the face of meaningful phenomena, they remain in the margins, looking for explanatory content that will also convince them of the form. Mastering the form for a content is what distinguishes the poster makers of this exhibition.


My colleague in academy times, Alfred Hrdlicka, put it this way: "The good Lord is not so kind as to give form to those who have no content. It is rather the case that people who are able to create content also have the stronger form. The more intelligent the content management, the stronger the form. Content and form enhance each other."

Robert Bosch, the company founder, still invited Luzian Bernhard for coffee on Sunday, discussed God and the world with him, helped him into his coat when he left and casually asked him to make some posters again. Granted, he had unrivalled monopoly products in an era that no longer exists. But the sense of entitlement could and should still exist. Even more so than back then.

We have a special target group in this exhibition, the jazz fans. But you don't have to be able to distinguish Delta-Blues from Space-Age-Blues and Hip-Hop from Be-Bop and know Groove-Soul and Templations-Walk to enjoy the quality and message of these posters. ... A picture can only be as good as the viewer who stands in front of it. Seeing, learning to see and practising seeing is an exhausting business. The subjectivity of the visual experience determines our judgements and views. Our memory can only cope with a fraction of what we see. Our attention is tuned to what we are interested in at the moment or always, what we want to see: new cars, when one is contemplating a purchase - as the saying goes. Prams, when the progenitor is born, a loaf of bread, when we are hungry or we see breasts and buttocks on the prowl for women.

We see selectively, we see primarily what controls our needs and desires. Not necessarily what brings us further in our personality development, what gives us new insights. ... As a viewer of this exhibition, you don't have to be a jazz expert to turn visual experiences into knowledge. One will enjoy the creative ideas, the ideas of the realisation of hearing, the forms and colours. However, previous knowledge does not hurt if you can judge what suits whom and what characterises whom. ... Colours can also be heard. It is not by chance that we speak of colour tones, colour sounds, harmonies, dissonances and compositions. "Tones sound when colours blush" is what Günter Brus calls a painting.

This exhibition brings together great artists of poster art who dedicate their visual interpretation skills to different directions. I do not want to comment on the individual artists, but ask you to enter into a silent dialogue in front of the posters and end it with a profit. You shall acquire the images through the eye not through the ear. The eyes should make a promise to your ears, which the music will then redeem.

Aalen Jazz Festival
5 Generations of Jazz Posters: «plakart»
Posters by Günther Kieser, Niklaus Troxler,
Ruedi Wyss, Dieter Feseke and Ine Ilg

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