A printer, art teacher and publisher living in London, Hansjörg Mayer’s typographical experiments and publications in his edition hansjörg mayer made him into one of the most important protagonists of concrete poetry and the art of the 1960s. In collaboration with this artist, the Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) is showing the artistic variety, determination and unconventionality of Mayer’s publishing house ‒ from its first typographic works that Mayer called “typoems”, to the international appeal and reverberations of concrete poetry from Stuttgart to São Paolo, up to and including Dieter Roth’s experimental artist books.
By the mid-1960s the art and literary world had turned its attention to Hansjörg Mayer (b. 1943, Stuttgart). As a teenager Mayer had come into contact with the Stuttgart circle around the philosopher Max Bense, who introduced him to the latest international tendencies in art, literature and music. Mayer’s fascination with the printing process, which he was able to experience firsthand in his family’s print shop, provided him with the initial impulse for his Druckprozessbildern (printed images). Since 1963, as Dieter Roth’s publisher, Mayer was prepared to find ways to convert every provocative artistic idea into the letterpress. Mayer moved to England in 1966, where he taught at the Bath Academy of Art and the Watford School of Art. In 1968 the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (The Hague) dedicated the first large retrospective to the 25-year-old artist. Since then, Mayer has published more than 300 books, posters, films, records and videos in the edition hansjörg mayer.
Jointly selected with Hansjörg Mayer, the exhibition presents the diversity of his publishing house. It starts with The First Alphabet, the beginning of Mayer’s typographical experiments with the 26 letters of the alphabet. A selection of films, which Mayer jointly realised in 1962 with Georg Bense and Rainer Wössner, can also be seen, alongside the pioneering portfolio works to konkrete poesie international, artist portfolios by Sigfrid Cremer and Herman de Vries, as well as the expansive book series of Dieter Roth’s Gesammelte Werke (complete works) and the records Selten gehörte Musik (rarely heard music). The unprecedented spectrum and impact of Mayer’s publications ‒ ranging from concrete poetry to ethnology ‒ can be found on book tables in the exhibition, enticing visitors to spend time reading and perusing them.