Waffenruhe. Photographs by Michael Schmidt. Text by Einar Schleef. Dirk Nischen Verlag, Berlin, 1987. Unpaged. First edition. Quarto (12 x 10 1/2 in./30 x 27 cm.). Stiff wrappers. Photo-illustrated dust jacket. Numerous black-and-white reproductions.
Fine in Near Fine+ jacket; light shelf wear; tiny edge tear with some creasing, lower edge of rear panel.
Zuhause (Home). Text and photos by Einar Schleef. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1981. Unpaged. Quarto. First edition. Stiff wrappers. Photo-illustrated dust jacket. Numerous black-and-white reproductions.
Fine-; light rubbing and edge wear.
Schleef, a renowned theater artist, writer and actor, is sometimes spoken of in the same breath as Fassbinder. His photographic output, however, was also vast. Schleef shares with artists as diverse as Syberberg, Kluge, Kiefer, and Beuys an obsession with the complicated relationship of history, memory and place in post war German history. Schleef died suddenly, at the age of just 57, in 2001. The Nobel Prize winning Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek said in his obituary,
"As a poet and creator of theatre, Schleef was the most outstanding phenomenon that I have encountered. The postwar period in Germany has produced only two geniuses - Fassbinder in the West and Schleef in the East."
Einar Schleef was Schmidt's collaborator on Waffenruhe; his uncommon, earlier book, Zuhause, was, in its dark atmospherics (subtly suggesting at narrative), its clean design and typography, a direct model for the later book. During the publication of Shmidt's book, the two had a falling out, with Schleef very unhappy with the less assertive typography in Schmidt's design for Waffenruhe.
From a 1987 review of Waffenruhe by Gerry Badger:
"Schmidt confirms that photography certainly can be enough, a medium rich in allusion, visual surprise, and narrative quality when utilised by an intelligent mind’s eye. Furthermore, Waffenruhe reiterates a fact that has long seemed blindingly apparent to the more discerning photographer, that photographs must be put together like words, or individual movie frames, in order to sing their full song. It advocates persuasively that the most effective form of presentation for the straight photograph is probably the book. A vessel for the poetically juxtaposed sequence of images, the book becomes the primary artwork, rather then the necessarily less concentrated row of prints on a gallery wall...., the tone of Schmidt’s book is gloomily romantic, shifting, autumnal, dark. He uses not only the objective materiality of the traditional social documentary/landscape mode, but a distinctly eighties, updated picturesque miasma...Schmidt has created a fetid poetry and an introspective gloom. This derives formally from the likes of Lewis Baltz and John Gossage – especially Gossage – but exudes a rhapsodic intensity of its own that marks it immediately as a European appropriation of an American vocabulary."--Creative Camera, 1987