1969 · From Rome to the Wohlen foundry

1969 In January he moved to Rome. He got himself an agent, who only succeeded in getting him some small parts in films which he himself was never to see. Great dissatisfaction and great poverty. Famous actors wanted portraits in exchange for an invitation to lunch. So there was a sketch or a portrait for a lunch, to survive. He survived but he decided to leave cinema and theatre forever. The first contacts started with artists of the Swiss Institute in Rome like Heidi Widmer and Johannes Gachnang. The formidable Swiss engraver prepared him a zinc plate with solid wax which later was to be his first etching. In July he left Rome, and sojourned in Genoa and Milan. In September he left Milan and moved to Bremgarten, Aargau, in German Switzerland. Here he developed the idea of wanting to know whether manual work mortifies a man’s artistic sensibility, and if so to what extent.

1970 He got a job at the foundry at Wohlen, a nearby village. So for seven months he was to experience his Divine Comedy: his Hell among the traps of the iron processing in the warm and cold departments, the smoke and the bursts of the furnaces; his Purgatory in the break at the canteen, where he was to force himself to draw at least ten minutes a day; and his Paradise in the museums in Zurich, Basle and Berne, which were to become the places of continual pilgrimages. He also went to visit the museums in Amsterdam and Delft. Assiduous and repeated dialogues with the works in those museums were to lead him to define a series of diagrams for the search for the universal values of art, Paul Klee’s works always being in the highest place.