Klaus Merkel: hornbook

Kienbaum Artists’ Books 2014

Kienbaum Artists’ Books, edited by Jochen Kienbaum
224 p with 165 coloured illustrations
240 x 165 mm, softcover with dustjacket

ISBN 978-3-86442-073-3

29,80 €

What’s so special about the »hornbook«?

The special thing about »hornbook« edited by Jochen Kienbaum, which is scheduled to come out in 2014 and examines the work of Klaus Merkel, is the sequencing of the 165 images in this volume, which is appropriate to his method of working and exhibition practice. Namely, the artist creates series of images, clusters or rhythms in order to distinguish the marks in his images as form and color signals without messages. He himself commented on the matter, saying that one sees »only that which comes across via the subjective mood. The images have no ›narrative‹ and are also not intended for the processing of ›abstractions‹. You can either perceive them physically, or reject them.« This can also apply to figurative symbols, only these mean that the image is no longer a narrative place and therefore has no mimetic function. To this end the artist makes use of a palette of just a few colors, namely green, red, yellow, black and sometimes blue. Hans-Joachim Müller comments on this in his entry in the Critical Lexicon of Contemporary Art: »What is told, if something can be told at all, is a non-linear, undirected ›narrative‹, the continuum of the images, which knows no orientation, which stretches and extends in every direction, which reaches deep into the history and the origin of the images and equally deep into the broader space of their possibilities and horizons.« The fact that here coincidence is also mobilized as an image creator is perhaps clarified in the title the artist has chosen for this book. Klaus Merkel installed on his computer a dictionary that dishes out a word at random every day. Thus his attention was drawn to »hornbooks«, alphabet boards carved into horn which were once used in Britain and the USA to teach children to read.