06 January 2019


Obituary Ferdinand Kriwet (1942–2018)

Text: Jörg Stürzebecher

Even though some of his works can be experienced haptically, such as his metal text plates or the wall plate for Rosenthal, touching, careful approaching was not his style. He was on the job, with his smallblocktextwithoutacommaparagraphandsoforth book “Rotor” (1961). As Carl Einstein put it, remarking on the presence of young innovators at the beginning of the 20th century, Kriwet was, “in literature”.


For Kriwet text was image and image text and therefore visual text. In his mixed media productions, poem paintings, buttons, signs and flags, he could narrate without words as he did in the excellent and still inexpensive “Apollo America” (1969), the first picture book published by Edition Suhrkamp. The visual required the acoustic, and Kriwet was also one of the great practitioners of new radio plays, alongside Hans G. Helms, Ludwig Harig or Franz Mon, but of course incomparable, even if he was, like Harig and Mon, represented in Christian Chruxin’s design of the legendary short text series “Schritte” [Steps]. After the radio plays, he withdrew, had no desire to comment on El Lissitzky in 1986, was exhibited and celebrated after a long break, most recently in the 2018 shows on the Goethe University Frankfurt’s Studio Gallery. Since his publications were available at second-hand bookshops and essays inevitably contained references to him, also as a pleasant consequence of the Internet marketplace, he was never forgotten and continued to inspire authors, editors, and translators such as Frankfurt’s Magnus Chrapkowski. None of this mattered to Kriwet, perhaps, but those interested in visual language and sometimes “loud, sometimes luise” (a reference to the volume of poetry by Austrian poet Ernst Jandl) tones can still benefit from the worth reading, seeing, and hearing works of Ferdinand Kriwetsuitsbitsynonymphomanylondon…


Nº 283
The Power of Design

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