Internationaler Kunstkritikerverband, Sektion der BRD

Georg Jappe, In Memoriam/ by Horst Richter

Georg Jappe, In Memoriam / by Horst Richter

                                Sea of my clearest verses
                                Today after years
                                Not a single thought.
                                     G. Jappe, Haiku Book, 1981

The numerous obituaries by friends and colleagues have confirmed it. Georg Jappe, who died 16 March 2007, was a multi-talented companion of modernity, a successful critic and artist at the same time. Born in 1936 in Cologne and having earned a PhD in 1961 after studies in Frankfurt/Main, Paris and Vienna, he set out on two career paths with near boundless dedication: the first as an author in the pseudo-natural sciences, in which he used ornithology to make his "visual and acoustic poetry" into an impressive series of bibliophilic publications; the other as a free-lance literary and art critic, which brought him international renown.

Initially working as a freelance editor of radio dramas at the Westdeutschen Rundfunk in Cologne, he began writing for the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger" in 1964. From 1966 to 1975, he wrote for the features section of the "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung," then for "Die Zeit" and various other periodicals. In 1976, after teaching positions in art and literature at the university in Essen, he went to the College for Fine Arts in Hamburg. There, as aesthetics professor for a quarter century, he imparted his view of the world, especially of the overlapping of art history and ethno-graphy, to students and junior colleagues. In 1976 he also parti-cipated in establishing the International Artists Forum (IKG) in Cologne.

In 1969, Jappe became a member of the German section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). Soon thereafter he became a member of its board of directors (until 1992), as well as twice serving as vice-president of the international AICA (1980-83 and 1985-88). On both boards he was committed not only to the appropriate presentation of art in public, particularly modern art, but also to its societal function outside the cultural arena. Jappe: "AICA was a precursor of the East-West détente. What interested me about it was the opportunity to introduce an artistic/political instrument." In doing so, he aimed not least to procure international appreciation for the German art scene. Throughout the years of his responsibilities in these posts, he made lasting efforts to advance the dialog between different ideological and theoretical blocs at the international level.

As representative of the German section, he participated in AICA congresses in Oslo, Amsterdam, Paris, Dresden, Brussels, Helsinki, Berlin, Warsaw, Dublin and Moscow with his own work, something which repeatedly brought him much attention. At the 1977 international AICA congress in Cologne, he lectured on "Methoden der Kunstkritik - wo sind sie?" ("Methods of Art Criticism - Where are They?"), based on nearly 700 press texts about documenta 6. His conclusion: "If I had known what kind of depressing and appalling reading I was getting myself into, I'd have come up with a more constructive topic." He wasn't one to mince words.

Jappe died in Kleve, the hometown of Joseph Beuys, with whom he shared a progressive dedication to art.

COLOGNE, March 2007


Cologne, March 2007
Horst Richter

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