Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nietzsche 306P

Johann Dieter Wassmann, NIETZSCHE 306P, 1897. 370 x 280 x 100 mm.

The lesser-known companion piece to yesterday's post, IN THE STAR CHAMBER, is Johann's provocative work, NIETZSCHE 306P.

In 1889, Nietzsche suffered a mental breakdown, often attributed to his contraction of syphilis, resulting in his admission to various clinics before he was moved to Naumburg, where his mother looked after him until her death in 1897. At that point his sister Elisabeth shifted him to Weimar, where she continued his care, as well as promoting his legacy and allowing the occasional audience with guests until his death in 1900.

It was in Weimar that Johann briefly visited Nietzsche, but finding only a shell of a man he returned home to produce this work, depicting simply and eloquently the empty collar of the man, an organ stop with the name 'Nietzsche' printed on it, and an opium-stained bone apothecary spoon. The objects are placed against a dappled blue wall, reflecting Nietzsche's penchant for blue-lensed spectacles.

Our thoughts go out today to the family of Nietzsche's most recent biographer, Curtis Cate, who we understand passed away earlier this week in Paris at the age of 82. The New York Times is preparing an obituary for publication in the next few days. In the meantime, here's a link to the Times review of Curtis's biography, FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (Overlook Press), from August of last year.

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