Wolfgang Feelisch

Born in Remscheid, Germany, Feelisch absolves his studies as industrial entrepreneur and works in his father’s tool factory. From the 1950s onward he devotes himself to contemporary art, above all to the unknown contemporary artists of the region, whose works he wants to make public. The legendary Dada exhibition in 1958 becomes an important exhibition experience for Feelisch in the post-war art landscape. This exhibition instilled the wish in many other artists and connoisseurs to connect with the pre-war avant-garde and with various artistic genres, music, literature, theater, fine arts.

In 1965 Feelisch becomes free-lance and takes up contact with young artists from the area around Cologne and Düsseldorf and in the circle around the Düsseldorf Art Academy, who have no connections to galleries and are not a part of the established art martket. Early on he has contact with Joseph Beuys. »At this time, in the years between 1965 and 1970, a small but exciting chapter in German art history is written. Just as the political orientation is weighted to the advantage of democratization, the area of fine arts and the art market are also oriented toward egalitarianism« (Schmieder 1998).

Feelisch views himself in opposition to the dominant art market and propagates the value of small things and objects in art, the meaning of »seeming trifles.« His idea of contributing to the contemporary art through publications soon leads to his own distribution of art objects (Multiples). In 1966 he founds the »Zeitkunstgesellschaft« and the mini mail-order firm »Vice-Versand«, whose creation itself is commensurate with a conceptual contribution. With publications and distribution of objects, »intuition« and »inspiration« are – according to the promise of the order prospectus – like a concrete »physical contact with contemporary art« (Feelisch, Zeitkunst im Haushalt). In the name of the artist (therefore »Vice«), Feelisch wants to make a »productive contact with that part of the public open to progressive changes of all kinds« (Feelisch, in: Die Zeit 1969), especially for school children and students, to bring art to everyone. Oriented toward the sales strategies of paperbacks, he expects through a fair starting price of 8 marks to distribute contemporary art at affordable prices. The same intention is reflected in the unlimited editions in which the objects are first produced. With the distribution Feelisch can open a sort of democratized »subsidiary art market« far away from the established art market just as producers, galleries and producers are trying to do at the same time, Daniel Spoerris and Karl Gerstner’s »MAT«, Klaus Staeck’ Gallery and »Edition Staeck«, Achim Hundertmark’s »Edition Hundertmark« or the »Fluxus-Editionen«, primarily authorized by George Maciunas.

In 1967 Feelisch participates himself in Aktions on the docks of the Rhine in Düsseldorf. 1968 he distributes Beuys’ wooden box Intuition, signed in pencil, parallel to the Art Fair in Cologne in a branch store of the »Deutscher Supermarkt«. In 1969 Feelisch adds to his distribution inventory his own »book« in’ sait, an object made of a wooden board inside a book-jacket. Soon well-know artists are distributed though Vice-Versand: Joseph Beuys, Wolf Vostell, Diter Roth or Daniel Spoerri are represented next to Nino Babieri, Ursula Burghardt, Claus Paeffgen, Timm Ulrichs, André Thomkins, Klaus Staeck, Gabor Altorjay or Mauricio Kagel. Beuys’ workIntuition, but also the gold colored wheat breads with an inserted bath water thermometer, which Wolf Vostell entitles »Prager Brote«, that refer to the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia, are among the most successful sales objects of Vice-Versands. One of the breads is purchased in the context of the »Erste Essener Songtage« by the Dortmund Museum am Ostwall in 1968.

Feelisch’s mail order objects, or multiples, are shown for the first time in an exhibition – as a »Diary« of Aktions and Performances in the region of Vice-Versa mail order (Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund). Adorned by the St. Andrew’s Cross, with which Feelisch also marks his printed works that later appear in a Beuys Multiple, a catalogue appears containing documentation of the mail-order objects. In 1972 Beuys – who was just released – – autographs together with Wolfgang Feelisch copies of Intuition in front of the Düsseldorf Art Academy. His plea for art with a new function is continued with the Intuition boxes in front of the doors of the academy.

With his mail-order of art objects and the participation in artistic actions, Wolfgang Feelisch establishes a comprehensive art collection, a spectrum of traces and relics from the object and action art of the 60’s, for whose distribution and external visibility Feelisch was largely responsible.

Selected Literature

Schmieder, Peter: Unlimitiert, Der VICE-Versand von Wolfgang Feelisch, Unlimitierte Multiples in Deutschland, Kommentiertes Editionsverzeichnis der Multiples von 1967 bis in die Gegenwart, Köln 1998

Sammlung Feelisch: Kat. hg. v. Museum am Ostwall, Bochum 1993

Fluxus, Eine lange Geschichte mit vielen Knoten, Fluxus in Deutschland 1962 — 1994: Ausst.-Kat. Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart 1994

Bildrechte: VG Bild Kunst, Bonn 2014 Foto: Tobias Roch, Hagen Bildrechte: gemeinfrei, Foto: Peter Hinschläger Bildrechte: Calder Foundation New York / Foto Stiftung Lehmbruck Museum

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