From Hugo Ball’s comment “a birdcage surrounded by roaring lions”, Zurich during World War One, the triptych project is named. The three parts concern the life of fictional Swiss artist Alexander Graf. Between artist and audience, in the murky middle, is where I found Herr Graf while I was searching for a story told through the eyes of one of those who existed in the shadows of history. Just outside of the historians pen.
Part one is the short film TRENCH(www.vimeo.com/53232604) The second part is the diary of fictional WWI German soldier Alphonse Korb. The diary, written between August 1914 and December 1915 (until Korb walked away from the trenches following the sound of a string quartet), was left in the care of H. Graf by Korb after the German soldier’s five month stay in Zurich under the protection of Graf, February to June 1916. Korb eventually returned to France and was subsequently killed at Verdun. The diary was never published by H. Graf although he did write an introduction and closing remarks. The diary will be published later this year(2015) but as a special treat, starting next week Saturday January 17th, 2015 at 11:59 AM MST, I will begin serializing the book in this blog. How’s that!
The third part of the triptych is the paintings Alexander Graf presented to Leo Castelli’s for his infamous 9th Street Show in 1951, later to be considered the coming out of the New York School. Featured were de Kooning, Pollock, Franz Kline and Hans Hoffman among the 60+ artists. Alexanders paintings are portraits, primarily of those he considered his mentors including Emmy Hennings, Hugo Ball, the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and his German soldier, Alphonse Korb. His work was turned down by Castelli. They have since remained in storage. In November of this year they will be seen in public for the first time. Stay tuned! And I suppose I should note if not already apparent. Alexander Graf and Alphonse Korb, as written about and protrayed in the Surrounded by Lions project are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.