At the age of seven I started to learn about good penmanship. In those days we still worked with a dip pen and ink from a glass pot built into the school desk. The letters had curls and thinner and fatter parts. Before writing you had to lick the dip pen, otherwise the ink wouldn’t hold. We had to practice this subject for years.
At secondary school I learned the difference between the lay-out of a business and personal letter. There are rules for this kind of thing.
Nowadays, there is hardly anything left of that solid education. Most of my correspondence is via the internet. I usually answer emails by adding some lines to the texts I receive and the addressee often reacts in the same way: a kind of digital Ping-Pong. This doesn’t make for beautiful prose and therefore I hardly print anything. Handwritten text is only used for birthday cards, condolences and shopping lists.
My good penmanship ended rather tragically. At a certain moment I could not even read my own handwriting anymore and I started using capitals instead.
Not everyone is that idle. Artist Willem de Ridder still writes his letters as he was taught over seventy years ago at school: in ink, with beautifully rounded and somewhat slanting letters. Occasionally, he uses a typewriter and these epistles are like small works of art.
The price for best penmanship goes to the Austrian artist Günter Brus, with whom I made three exhibitions between 1977 and 1985. In the nineteen sixties, he achieved international fame with his taboo breaking ‘Aktionen’ (actions). On the 19 th of June 1970, his last performance titled Zerreißprobe took place in Munich. Brus cut himself with a razor in various places, like the back of his head and his thigh. Afterwards, Brus dedicated most of his time to drawing and writing and started combining his visual and literary output in so-called Bild-Dichtungen (Picture Poetry).
In 1997, Brus received the Grand Price of the Austrian State. Since 2008, a major part of his oeuvre is housed in the Bruseum, incorporated into the Universalmuseum Joanneum in Graz.
I hardly ever sold a work by Günter Brus during the first couple of years, but he supported Galerie A for a long time. He even designed invitations in pencil for each of his exhibitions, which were then printed in offset.
In December 1983, Brus wrote the following letter to me.
Günter Brus, letter, Graz, undated (December 1983).