Ueberkreuz. Vom Zeichen zum Abzeichen Plakate, Buchkunst, Grafik, Werbung
Stefan Soltek + Uwe Loesch; Verlag Hermann Schmidt, Mainz (D) (1998); published on the occasion of an exhibition at the Museum fuer Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt/M (D); 200 pages, about 100 b/w, some color reproductions; 33 x 24 cm, hardcover; ISBN 3-87439-467-0; DEM 68.00 (about 44 US$); in german
The nice saleslady from the Hermann Schmidt Verlag was beaming with excitement when she explained the key feature of their new book : "If you would take a power drill and would drill a hole through the cover, right through the book, it would pass through the center of a cross on each page". The book title on the dust jacket forms a sort of cross hairs to guide the inexperienced book driller on where exactly to start. All the pictures in the book show crosses in various forms and shapes, and are cleverly positioned so that the center of the cross is always at the center of the page. Wow!
That's an idea worthy of graphic designer Uwe Loesch I thought, and indeed, he is a co-author, together with Stefan Soltek, curator of an exhibition on crosses at the Frankfurt Museum fuer Kunsthandwerk, a Loesch fan and frequent contributor to the german graphic design publication Novum.
Dr. Soltek and Prof. Loesch have searched the poster and rare book collection of the museum for pictures of crosses and have come up with a dazzling array of them: A pierced nipple with a dangling cross, swastikas, ass holes, a drawing by Soltek's daughter when her hamster died, Keith Haring's penis with a cross painted on it, and about 50 posters made by graphic masters ranging from Makoto Saito, Rosmarie Tissi, Niklaus Stoecklin to John Heartfield, Niklaus Troxler, Josef Mueller-Brockmann and Shin Matsunaga, to name a few, all reproduced in muddy black and white illustrations. Also a couple of Loesch's, of course. The authors proudly note the absence of cross stitches, graveyards and spaghetti junctions in their selection as not meeting their high standards of relevance. Why not spaghetti junctions? Never mind.
The introduction to the book is written by xxx (who else ?), and entitled Luja, presumably a famous bavarian last word. There is no table of content, but if you have the stamina to dig through 24 pages of continuous unformated text printed in light gray, fortified by 79 footnotes printed across the same text in font size 4 , you might catch the beginning of an article by Lucas Wuethrich on the history of the swiss flag, and will enjoy the numerous untranslated latin quotes for relaxation. By that time, the absence of an index of keywords or poster designers or illustrations will hardly bother you.
Nevertheless, the temptation to actually read the book is great, because of the fascinating topic and the rich material that is presented. I even tried to look up the various crosses which are discussed at length in the text, but had to give up because most are hidden on half size pages dispersed randomly throughout the book and no typographic help is offered to establish a correspondence between word an image.
Resist terror. For solidarity with South Africa
Uwe Loesch fuer Mouvement de la Paix Paris
transit. Bruegge - Novgorod
exhibition poster for Ruhrlandmuseum Essen, Duesseldorf
layout of page 96
main text printed vertically in light gray , overprinted with horizontal footnotes
Need I say more ? Yes. This is not a book, but a piece of art. There is a stamp in
golden ink (smelling faintly like Beuys) on the cover, on the first and on the
last page, to prove it, even a picture of the rubber stamp. If you trust your
judgment about the investment value of art, you might consider buying it.