Signed by the sitters

[Photography - Joseph Beuys, Keith Haring, Gerhard Richter, Günther Uecker]. Mebusch, Heinz Günter, German photographer and experimental artist (1952-2001). "Reise zum Planeten Ars". 199 portrait photographs of artists, 185 of which are signed by the sitters.

Various places, 1979-1992.

199 gelatin silver prints on baryta paper, mounted on light cardboard. Ca. 265 x 179 mm each, paper ca. 293 x 208 mm. Loosely stored in original wooden coffer.


1 of 25 numbered sets, signed by the sitters almost throughout and annotated by the photographer. An important collection of nearly 200 artists' portraits, including Joseph Beuys, Fernando Botero, Arno Breker, Paul Flora, Ernst Fuchs, Karl Otto Götz, Keith Haring, Jörg Immendorff, Loriot, Heinz Mack, Georg Muche, Meret Oppenheim, Gerhard Richter, H. A. Schult, Roland Topor, Günther Uecker, Tomi Ungerer, Wolf Vostell, Dondi White, Shizuko Yoshikawa and many more.

Heinz-Günter Mebusch, a student of Otto Steinert, one of Germany's most important postwar photographers, was active in more than 40 countrys in Europe, Africa, and America. His longest and most extensive project was his series of ca. 200 artists' portraits, created between 1978 and 2000 in close collaboration with the sitters. A limited set of 25 copies was produced in the years 1979-1992, often with additional signatures (and an overpainting by Ford Beckman), titled "Reise zum Planeten ARS". Almost all of the present prints are signed by the sitters. They are numbered 22 (of a total run of 25) and are presented in an elaborate wooden casket; all are annotated by Mebusch on the reverse and bear his fingerprint.

Now an obscure name, Mebusch in his day was acquainted with all notable artists of his time, exhibiting in Costa Rica, Luxembourg, Vienna, Hollywood ("Polytoxicomania"), Düsseldorf ("Schatzsuche"), San Francisco (Goethe Institute, 1998), and Venice (Biennale, 1999), taught at the Folkwangschule in Essen, and organised or curated numerous art and photo projects, including the 1991 Beuys Festival in Düsseldorf. A small selection of his works was recently shown by the documenta archive, which owns its own copy of the portrait series: "Taken at very close range, the headshots captivate the viewer through the sitters' intense, direct gaze".

Rarely encountered complete in the original coffer: the only copy sold at auction within the last decades comprised merely 179 portraits. A detailed list is available on request.