Friday, March 30, 2012

All Traffic Lights Are Yellow

There is only one book about Peter-Ernst Eiffe, who is often referred to as the first graffiti artist in Germany. Eiffe's ludic and surrealist slogans were visible all over Hamburg during the tumultuous year of 1968, and became perhaps the most visible public texts of the German student uprisings. Eiffe frequently dressed in a suit and tie, and would often leave his business card near the site of his work; when a building used the contact information to issue him an invoice for damages to their property, he responded by sending them an invoice to pay for the artwork.

What station were you listening to, Eiffe?

Eiffe's culminating action occured in May of 1968, when he drove his Fiat into Hamburg Central Station and began to write on the tiles until cops dragged him away. He was subsequently interred into a psychiatric ward. This book was published by his friend Uwe Wandrey in order to raise money for his cause. [Here is a profile I wrote about another great book published by Wandrey].

Eiffe was released from the ward later in the year, but in 1970 was interred into Rickling Psychiatric Hospital for depression. In 1982 he escaped, but died of exposure during the attempt. 

Eiffe's life and work was the subject of a 1995 documentary film by Christian Bau.

This book is not only one of the most interesting publications of the German Student Movement, but is also an important and criminally overlooked artifact in the history of graffiti art. OCLC locates only the Deutsch Bibliothek copy. 

Eiffe, Peter-Ernst. Eiffe for President: Fruhling Fur Europe. Surrealismen Zum Mai 1968. Hamburg: Quer-Verlag, 1968. Oblong 16mo. Stab-stapled in in cardboard covers, with a photographically illustrated pastedown to front panel. Illustrated with three black and white photographs. Text in German. Some expected toning to covers, as expected, with a light vertical crease to front and back panel, still a near fine copy of a very fragile book. According to some reports, as many as 3000 copies were sold, but it is likely that far fewer copies survive; the cardboard covers and fragile staple job make it almost impossible to open without breaking the binding. Inquire

From our upcoming lucky catalog #13, out sometime next week. 

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