Few artists are so inextricably tied to their native soil as Jan Schoonhoven (1914–1994). In the early 1960s, the born and bred man of Delft achieved international renown with his white reliefs of paper and cardboard, yet he always remained loyal to ‘his’ Delft. The German photographer Lothar Wolleh (1930–1979) admired Schoonhoven’s work and visited Delft for the first time in 1968.
Jan Schoonhoven and Lothar Wolleh intended their 1971 artists’ book to be a calling card of their artistry. It was a project which often brought the photographer back to Delft. Schoonhoven showed Wolleh how the rhythms of the city recur in drawings and reliefs as ‘isolated realities’. Pave-ment, weathered walls of the alleys of Delft and windows along the canals: Jan Schoonhoven’s work is abstract and autonomous, but ‘breathes’ Delft nevertheless.
The first part of this publication consists of Jan Schoon-hoven’s and Lothar Wolleh’s artists’ book, which now, after more than fifty years, has been published for the first time. The second part, printed on grey paper, recounts the story of the two artists and their collaborative projects – and above all, too, of their unconditional love of the arts.
In January 1971, Joseph Beuys (Krefeld, 1921–Düsseldorf, 1986) had his first museum exhibition outside the German-speaking world, at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Photographer Lothar Wolleh (Berlin, 1930–London, 1979) accompanied Beuys to Stockholm and documented the setting up of this exhibition. These photos formed the basis of an exceptional project, an artist’s book composed under both their names that ultimately attained fame under the title Unterwasserbuch (Underwater Book).
This publication contains the re-edition of this artist’s book, the first part of this cassette. The second part of this cassette reconstructs the rich, wondrous history of ‘Project Unterwasserbuch’ with previously unpublished photographs, sketches, concepts and correspondence. Together, these books chart the tribulations of Joseph Beuys’ and Lothar Wolleh’s ‘Unterwasserbuch project’. They are an imprint of the creative discourse of the early 1970s, but equally tell the story of two kindred spirits.