• 1967-09-29-0750
  • 1967-09-29-075a
  • 1967-09-29-075b

permutierbarer text [v67-75]

catalogue number: hdv 1967.081.1
date created: 1967
work type: artist's publications
medium: broadside printed in black ink on paper with text 'ein biogra[p]hie ist eine lebensbeschreibung' on the left side of the sheet; the rest of the sheet is filled by the text 'permutierbarer text' [= permutable text], 43 words randomly selected from 7 books, also randomly selected from the library of herman de vries (Max Bense, Aesthetica, Augustinus, Confessions, T.P. van Baaren, Dans en religie, R.L. Gregory, Visuele waarnemening, A.D. de Groot, Mens en Computer, Vatsyayana, Kama Sutra, G. Woodcock, Anarchism); each word is expressed in 4 languages, Dutch, German, French and English. The 4 versions of the same word are composed on a line; the position of each line is randomly determined
dimensions: 48 × 64 cm (folded 24 × 16 cm)
signature and inscriptions: uninscribed
edition: published by edition hansjörg mayer, stuttgart 1967 in the series futura n° 23
edition 1000
current repository:
current repository number:
collecting history:
related works: the numbers futura 1-13 were also published as futura sammelband 1 (Edition Hansjörg Mayer : Stuttgart 1967) and the numbers 14-26 as futura sammelband 2 (Edition Hansjörg Mayer : Stuttgart 1968) both in an edition of 300 copies
photo/scan: collection l-cs
rights & reproduction: herman de vries
object label

the first personal publication wherein language reappears was produced in 1967, the last year of herman de vries' membership in the zero group. It appeared in number 23 of the poster-journal of concrete poetry futura, edited by hansjörg mayer and is called 'permutierbarer text' (permutable text). Permuting, that is transposing words or letters on the space of the page is one of the favourite games of concrete poetry, the experimental poetry that herman de vries practiced after 1965. As an extension of geometric abstraction in painting (in which the zero group is involved) into the domain of literature, concrete poetry demanded that poetry rid itself of description, narration and lyricism in favour of spatial poetry.

This consists of disassembling language into formal non-semantic units in order to break the constraints of syntax and the linear structure of reading and in doing so allowing other possibilities, notably the visual. In 'permutierbarer text', however, it is not a question of suggesting a new configuration of signs and even less of giving shape to a defined image.

source: Anne Moeglin-Delcroix, 'beyond language', in herman de vries. les livres & les publications (Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche 2005) 31.

exhibition history
2023 'Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952–1982', LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles [group]
published references
text herman de vries, '[eine biogra[p]hie ... ]', in futura n° 23 (Edition Hansjörg Mayer : Stuttgart 1967). Reprinted in in exhibition catalogue Sammlung Cremer (Heidelberger Kunstverein : Heidelberg 1971) 182-184 and in Sammlung Cremer. Europäische Avantgarde 1950 bis 1970 / hrsg. von Götz Adriani (Kunsthalle Tübingen : Tübingen 1973) 201.
catalogue raisonné herman de vries. les livres et les publications : catalogue raisonné (centre des livres d'artistes : Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche 2005) no image repr., 99 (catalogue number 8).
monograph Bronac Ferran, The Smell of Ink and Soil. The Story of [Edition] Hansjörg Mayer (Walther König : Köln 2017) 205 (catalogue number 59).