Iveta Pole wearing M-Couture

Latvian theater and film actress Iveta Pole is wearing M-Couture dress from our latest SS16 collection MUZA, photographed by the talented photographer Karlīna Vītoliņa (www.karlinavitolinaphotography.com).

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An ode to gluten



*at the time of writing this article its author knew pretty all there is about the harm that mass produced yeast, raising agents and baked soda can cause, but was yet to be educated enough about the health problems that gluten can cause. therefore, author is sure that the recipes and text it self is still relevant if reader substitutes the words “wheat flour” to “buckwheat flour”, “corn flour” or any other gluten-free flour.

i must admit that this post is written on the same day that the last one was published. and the main inspiration for it is not just the enthusiastic response that the author received (special and tremendous thanks on this one, though to be honest i still think those who read me just feel sorry for my lack of other, certain talents). oddly enough, artemy lebedev was the one to cash some truth out by suddenly posting about gluten. it is also important to note that, this ode to gluten will most likely interest the chick population more.

first allow me to tell you how it all began. i am based in cyprus now. not to offend anyone, but majority of people here do not care about healthy diet. bio-, raw- and vegan shops are still in the birth phase around here and it is quite habitual to see a cypriot warmly greeting you while he is setting up a barbecue to roast some baby lamb next to his stairwell.

i have spent hours reading nutritional information of each and every product provided at local bakeries. i was horrified by realizing what exactly my family members were putting into their bodies. the decision was obvious to me: go and grasp the nettle.

pastry… it actually provokes pathogens inside the gut itself, but you really don’t want to know how nice it is in comparison to the “presents”  given to your body by industrial bread (specifically gluten flour, yeast and soda mixed all together). there are still individuals like my dad, who can swallow an inch2 leather boot and not fall down choking, but the fact is that a normal person’s body is not able to digest it. Moreover, it makes the insides of our bodies cozy birth place for a huge amount of undesirable bacterias. and yes, people professing raw and strict vegans might punch me, but still there is a place for substitutes. same way as love dolls and dildos are better than nothing.


i can make pretty much any type of an event that you dream of come to life – a wedding, corporate event, birthday, fashion show, conference, etc. are all up my alley. and that is what I am successfully busy with on my non-culinary days. but when it comes to planning and running my stuff in the kitchen, most of the time it becomes a disaster. that is why you should not expect any precise numbers and ounce measurements, just cook with all of your heart and get ready to see the unexpectedly delightful reactions from the ones you cook for.

and look, there is one more bright side: the recipes you will find below are easy and fast to grasp, and for those of you who won’t follow my mood of self-sacrificing formalist which can’t start with baking before making the space look nice and tidy after whipping up the eggs, each recipe will take just about an hour.

okay, go!

 its easier than it seems aka yeast-free breads 

main ingredients:

3 cups of flour (I put wholewheat flour, which makes me feel a bit more guilt-free)
1 cup of a natural yoghurt
1/2 a cup of any vegetable oil (you can put a whole one if you are not afraid to get a little bit more booty afterwards)
1 cup of soaked oatmeal (better if you put quinoa or amaranth, it is after all gluten-free – a little less intoxication never hurt nobody)
2-3 cups of carrot juice pulp (or same amount of grated carrots)

ballpark estimation:

fresh dill
fresh parsley
salt and pepper
seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, poppy, flax, sesame. hemp seeds are especially important if this bread’s target market are kids – they will chuckle and say it’s eyes)

red onion and garlic

the act itself:

  1.  quite simple as you will soon see. put salt and pepper into the flour and then move down the list of ingredients – logically and consequentially, from top to bottom, without missing anything. as soon as you are ready, turn up the oven to 200 degrees and make little balls out of your dough while oven is still warming up.
  2.  let the round pastries chill a little by putting it into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3.  put parchment paper on the pan, grease some vegetable oil in to the parchment paper (i will skip a tractate on how harmful heated olive oil is, okay?), take your round pastries out of the fridge and put them on the pan and cover them with foil. Put them into the oven and leave them be for about 40 minutes. voila!

since these breads are without soda, yeast and raising agents, be prepared that it is going to be a hard time for its content to be ready the same time as the crust, so just let them take their time.

the breads are most likely going to be ready in forty minutes, still if they’re not just turn off the oven and leave them alone for another hour or two. anyways, dough is toxic to eat while still steaming hot.


bye-bye miss american pie

i guess it is the right time to make a confession – yes, i do have a new juicer, and passion for a fresh carrot juice has made me produce vegetable pulp in industrial quantities. needless to say, there is just no place i could put it into anymore. that was until the moment that carrot cake came into my life.

main ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup of sugar(I take 1/2 cup of brown)
1/2 cup of vegetable oil (most delicious if you put coconut oil instead)
2 cups of flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 cup of carrot juice pulp
a pinch of salt

ballpark estimation:


the act itself:

break a couple of eggs into the blender and start adding sugar very slowly, frequently mixing it into eggs – it takes a minute to do with a blender and five if you mix it by hand. If you do decide to do it by hand you can easily skip your next gym class. add spices and salt. generously pour the potion with oil, while slowly adding flour as you have already mixed the sugar in.

the readiness of the dough is easy to check – as soon as the spoon is standing straight in it- you’ve got it! then mix pulp into the dough. now it’s time for final touches.

not sure if there is a definite need for it, but I give a round little bun about half an hour to breathe a little cool air and put it into the fridge.

all that comes next is a sweet housewife dream come true – warmed up pan, airy parchment paper, oil drop smudged on it, rolled round little bun placed under a foil cover, 200 degrees, 40 minutes, and you are as happy as gluten can make you. For a total la vie en rose moment feel free to put some whipped cream on top…



not a one trick pony 

the pulp cake is prepared with any imaginable juice pulp. Does not matter if it is carrot, lemon and orange as it normally is for me, or celery and beetroot can too be great substitutes.

however, you still have to be really careful when it comes to citrus fruit – lemon peel is a good thing that one can have too much of. therefore I advice you to separate your lemons from their zest beforehand.

in the mean time the benefits of brown sugar (and i don’t mean drugs here) is an illusion of better life created by talented marketing teams hired by food industry, so if you are not totally addicted to it, feel free to forget to add it). noney would not work as an alternative here either – hope you all have already heard that it becomes cancerogenic when warmed up.


well, that’s it for today. one last thing – i wish you bon appetit!) eat consciously, and may all the buns in your life be plump and golden)

Stefanija Moroz for M-Couture Latvia
Text original: http://www.zrivnutro.com/2015/01/ода-клейковине/

ART: baloon art by Ramona Rosales

No day at our studio passes without discussion about latest exhibitions and art. Art fest at Miami is over, but we really enjoyed works by photographer Ramona Rosales presented by De Soto Gallery. Balloooons might save the day!


WEB: www.ramonarosales.com

Colette favorites by M-Couture


If you have missed the design, fashion and lifestyle mecca Colette – then don’t tell anyone. It’s a boutique (A MUST SEE) on one of the prominent streets of Paris Rue Saint Honore (along with Hermes, Balmain, Chanel etc) selling super trendy fashion stuff, organizing exhibits and presentations almost every week and serving chic food in their cafe. Colette attracts with its urban mood, when entering the shop you become part of the WHOLE THING. Music is big part of it so here is our playlist, chosen by girls from M-COUTURE studio:







WEB: colette.fr

Literature: How to be Parisian

Well, this is definitely book of the books for fashion girls. Can you recall a lady who would say: “Nah, I don’t care about Paris!” ? We are not that type, so we stick with Paris, the vibe of the city, and no matter where we are – love, style and bad habits make us more or less “les Parisiennes”.


This book, written by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas – talented iconoclasts and friends for years – give their very original views on style, culture, attitude and men alongside making fun of their complicated, often contradictory, feelings and behavior. But don’t expect too much of this book, because it is full of cliches, yet fun, romantic and inspiring.

Shhh… they also say that the most famous Parisiennes are FOREIGNERS. Like Marie Antoinette, Josephine Baker, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin. That makes the game easier for us! Who would have thought?!

Plus, we will share a list of books fantastic authors of this book say we shouldn’t miss:

The Stranger, ALBERT CAMUS

The Elementary Particles, MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ

Belle du Seigneur, ALBERT COHEN

Bonjour Tristesse, FRASNCOISE SAGAN


Foam of the Daze, BORIS VIAN



Journey to the End of the Night, LOUIS FERDINAND CELINE


Shooting of M-COUTURE ss15 with our talanted @vikaniska Backstage shot on film by @kidsgazette #zenit

LIFESTYLE: Eating a Banana with the Queen

When it comes to etiquette, M-Couture ladies always have a say. We all know that you will never drink champagne from a bottle, but the same is with a banana. We think that we are not monkeys, so a banana has to be put on a desert plate and eaten with a fork and knife…at least when visiting the Queen.


Here is a step by step guide how to not look like a monkey…

STEP 1. Pick the banana and put it on a small plate. You will be provided with fruit fork and knife. Place the banana curving towards you so it looks like a frown. Using your fork to steady the banana, cut off the ends and put them at the top of your plate.

STEP 2. Cut the banana from end to end on both sides, try to cut just the peel and not too much of the banana itself. Lift off the ‘roof’ of the banana peel with your fork and knife and place it covering the banana ends at the top of your plate.

STEP 3. Using the side of your fork, slice off pieces of the banana, one at a time, tines facing downwards, starting at one end of the banana, working towards the other end. When you have finished eating, put the peel ends back in the shell and place the roof on top.  Place your cutlery parallel, between 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock.

Text in cooperation with Hong Kong institute of etiquette.

Illustration by Santa Bindemane

TRAVEL: Art Basel Miami & other fairs


Leading international galleries show work from masters of Modern and contemporary art as well as pieces by newly emerging stars, BUT unofficially it is one of the top art fairs visited by celebrities, fashionistas and those who want to have a glass of champagne with some “soon become art stars”. The real art collectors try to avoid loud pool parties as quite often they prefer late dinners with think alikes. We are somewhere between these two, as we are very curious to see who is gona beat last years Jeff Koon’s Elephant sold for 20 million and to get some new inspiration from the works of new artists.


Date & Place: 4-7 Dec, 2014

Miami Beach Convention Centre

Web: www.artbasel.com



Unseen is the international photography fair focused on undiscovered photography talent and unseen work by established photographers.

Date & Place: 18-21 Sept, 2014

Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam

Web: www.unseenamsterdam.com


The second edition of Istanbul’s leading international art fair will bring together 80 international and local galleries in one of the world’s most vibrant destinations for contemporary art. Offering unrivalled access to exciting new art from Turkey, Europe, the US, the Middle East and beyond, and drawing on Istanbul’s unique geographic location as a gateway between ‘East’ and ‘West’, the fair is fast becoming a cultural bridge across the global art world. In addition to the participation of leading and emerging galleries, the fair provides a programme of exhibitions, events and forums, enabling visitors to experience the rich cultural history of Istanbul alongside the flourishing local contemporary art scene developing today.

Date & Place: 26-28 Sept, 2014

Haliç Congress Centre, Istanbul

Web: www.istanbulartinternational.com

VIENNAFAIR The New Contemporary

It is the most important international platform for contemporary art originating from Central, Eastern and South-eastern Europe. In recent years, it has been established as an incomparable springboard for galleries and artists, with the exciting space it creates for thought-provoking dialogue and events.

Date & Place: 2-5 Oct, 2014
Messe Wien, Wien

Web: www.viennafair.at


Frieze London is one of the few fairs to focus only on contemporary art and living artists. The exhibiting galleries represent the most exciting contemporary galleries working today. The focus on living artists is also evident in the critically acclaimed Frieze Projects’ programme. The fair presents a curated programme of talks, artists’ commissions and film projects, many of which are interactive or performative and encourage visitors to engage with art and artists directly.

Date & Place: 15-18 Oct, 2014

Regent’s Park, London

Web: www.friezelondon.com


The International Contemporary Art Fair or FIAC, is to the French capital what the Frieze Fair is to London. In short, it is one of the major events on the international contemporary art scene. Held under the soaring glass roof of the Grand Palais, seasoned collectors and first time visitors come from all over the world to look at and invest in the work of important modern and contemporary artists. Top international galleries from all over the world present work by up-and-coming artists at this prestigious event.

Date & Place: 23-26 Oct, Paris

Grand Palais, Paris

Web: www.fiac.com


Artissima’s features five major sections: Main Section, which includes the most representative galleries on the international art scene; New Entries, devoted to the most interesting young galleries; Present Future, a section by invitation characterized by solo shows of young international emerging artists; Back to the Future, a presentation of solo exhibitions by artists active in the 60’s and 80’s and selected by a jury of renown museums directors and curators; and Art Editions, devoted to galleries and other spaces presenting editioned works, prints and multiples by contemporary artists. In 2014 Artissima will launch Per4m, a new section devoted to the presentation of performative works.

Date & Place: 7-9 Nov, 2014

Oval, Turin

Web: www.artissima.it

Song of the Week: Ex fan des sixties

What plays in our studio during this week? Well, we have always been great fans of Jane Birkin and 60s of course.

Cover photo by Francois Gaillard, 1973

LITERATURE: probably the best bookshop in town

When traveling to Germany, Cologne specifically – visit book store Walter Konig Books. According to those who care about art books, photography etc, suggest this as Nr.1. And we wouldn’t like to be the last ones to know this kind of treasure destination.


Owner of the legendary bookstore – Mr Walter Konig, of course, which attracts important artists, art collectors and both casual and serious book collectors once said: “”I don’t use an iPad, or Kindle. I tried it, and think those devices are ideal to perform certain tasks, but they will never replace artist’s books, not even art books.”

Don’t you agree, dear ladies?! We do!

Web: www.buchhandlung-walther-koenig.de

Here on 032c we found a nice interview (no matter year 2011) with Mr Konig, and thought you might be interested. Take a cup of coffee and have a good read.

Hans Ulrich Obrist buys a book everyday. It is a ritual he started about 20 years ago. He buys the books at different places, wherever he happens to be. But he especially likes to perform this daily Tarkovskian ritual at a place he refers to as “paradise”: the Walther König bookstore. The legendary business was founded in Cologne in 1969 by WALTHER KÖNIG (b.1939), soon to become one of the world’s pre-eminent addresses for art-related literature and a hotbed of intellectual exchange (apart from the parent location, the bookstore now maintains branches across Germany, in Vienna, and in London). Around the same time, with his brother Kasper, König also started a publishing house. Today, the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König is home to many artists, including Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Hans Peter Feldmann. Obrist, who has known the bookseller and publisher since he was a young student and has collaborated with him on a series of books, speaks of König with wonder-filled enthusiasm. He points out the publisher’s “incredible generosity,” and is fascinated by the “Borgesian infinity” of the original bookshop’s physical space. “Whenever you think you’ve seen it, there is another hidden room. Little by little, one discovers, floor by floor, more and more secret spaces – and I am sure I still have not seen all of them, filled with books upon books. It’s almost paradise. I’ve always thought of the König bookshop as a sort of paradise.” It is amid this inner architectural complexity, in König’s office, that the two men sat down to talk about what Obrist sees as a one unified entity: “It’s him – his bookshop, his building, all the books, his publishing – it’s a beautiful, holistic thing.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist: How did it all start? Did the books find you, or was it the other way around?

Walther König: It was actually a coincidence. After boarding school in the country, I went to Berlin. That was before the wall was built. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I studied law. I didn’t see much of the school other than the cafeteria, but I did have a great year. In Berlin I saw great theater for the first time and got to know great bookstores, also in the East, and the big Antiquariate [used book stores]. It was a complete El Dorado; you could live very well for very little money. After that year I knew I did not want to study law. I had been working at a small general bookstore on the side, just doing odd jobs and running errands for them. That’s how I first came into contact with the trade and decided to give up law and become a bookseller. I drove across Germany and got stuck in Cologne. There was a legendary bookstore there called the Bücherstube am Dom.

That was pretty well known at the time.

It was very famous. It was one of several bookstores in various cities that were founded during the Weimar years and came out of the Wandervogel youth movement.

And this was in the 50s?

Yes, I applied for an apprenticeship position with the Bücherstube’s owner, Hans Mayer. He became my boss. He was a very special man and I owe my entire profession to him, as well as my passion for books and the book trade. He had founded Bücherstube am Dom in the 1930s with Albert Schulze-Vellinghausen, and it became the meeting place for Cologne’s literary and cultured society. It also had an Antiquariat. I spent seven years there.

But it wasn’t an artist’s bookstore?

No, it was a general bookstore, but at a very high level. It had every kind of department – a Russian section, medical, gardening, etc. – and also a big literary department, which was run by a very interesting man. He had a regular clientele with whom he only talked about the books they had bought from him the last time. He would say to them, “You must experience something.” And as they were talking about the books they had bought on their previous visit, he would walk through the store and collect 3, 4, 5 books and bring them to the cashier. And the people bought them without asking any questions. It was never discussed whether they wanted the books he had picked or not, he just assigned books to each client, if you will.

And how did you become involved with the art book department?

The first Kunstmarkt Köln art fair took place in 1967 – that was the trigger. After two and a half years I was done with my apprenticeship, so Mayer gave me the art department, which was his big passion. Then in ‘68, [Arnold] Bode’s last documenta took place, and I said “Los, Herr Mayer! We have to go to that.” So we both drove to Kassel.

How did that experience change things for you?

I stayed in Kassel for three months, alone, sleeping in one of those uncomfortable rooms they have for truckers at gas stations; it was one of the best times of my career. That’s because it was the first time I came in contact with international artists. But also, you had all the big names and the big paintings in Kassel: Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Olitski, Ad Reinhardt, Wesselmann – things I had never seen before. At the time, only libraries and institutes had foreign books. Nothing came from America or England. So we agreed to only carry foreign books and publications that weren’t available on the German market. Back then, you still had classic exhibition catalogues; totally different from today’s, they were published by the actual museums. In Kassel, things went from local to international.

So that was the opening to the world?

Yes. But I have to add that the American books came through my brother Kasper, who was living in New York at the time. That played a big role. I can remember the first Magritte catalogue came from MoMA; I had never seen anything like it. But it was also totally new for our customers in Cologne, and for my colleagues at the bookstore. You can’t forget that there was a very different attitude towards modern art in Germany at the time. It was always treated as something that you made fun of after discussing politics and sports – “My six-year-old could do that.” In any case, Kasper went to all the galleries in New York and one day he sent a gigantic suitcase full of the most amazing things – the first Bruce Naumann book was in there too.

It sounds like a Wunderkammer.

Exactly, it was fantastic. Kasper had put it all together in New York. These were publications that no one had seen here yet. Germans had a great deal of catching up to do in the early sixties.

What else did you learn during these years?

Everything. To this date, my Lehrherr [apprenticeship master], Mayer, is my biggest role model. He was just such an extraordinary bookseller. He was always in the store and showed us how to handle clients. He also introduced me to all the important people and to the working hours I still keep. He would just say, “Herr König, you should stay this evening; interesting people are coming.” He always had clients that came after the shop had closed. He had an office with an Antiquariat on the second floor with a separate entrance from the store. All these interesting people and collectors visited him there.

No one knew about these rooms?

Correct, and that’s a concept I kind of took over.

So you also have rooms that are not accessible to everyone.

Yes, on the top floor. Very few people have keys to that area. That is one of several methods that I learned from Mayer and still use. Another one is the way we have run our order department from day one. All the books that arrive stay first on big tables. I come in very early in the morning, when no one else is here yet, look at everything and decide where it is going: if it will be offered in a certain department, if it’s a standing order that needs to be sent somewhere, how to enter it bibliographically, if an additional text needs to be prepared for it, which branch gets it, etc. – we have all these big compartments. And that is essential for me, because my whole memory of titles comes from having held each and every book in my hands. Lists of titles or other systems don’t help me remember anything. But if I have actually physically handled a book, then it sticks permanently in my head. Now, as you can imagine, every day we receive mountains of books, so this process can take hours. But keeping it this way is very important to me, and it’s something I learned from Mayer too. If we got a new book about Kirchner for instance, he didn’t explain who Kirchner was, but what literature existed about him, what had been published by or about Kirchner in past years. It’s a genius method to record books in one’s bibliographic memory.

And what happened after your time with Mayer?

Just one more thing about Mayer – it’s good. We would drive to the book fair in Frankfurt in my Opel Admiral, which was more like an American car, long like a ship. Opel made the biggest cars at the time, not Mercedes or BMW. Anyway, at the fair I just followed him around, carrying bags full of books, and he introduced me to all the publishers, because he was incredibly respected. I tell that story because it shows how many doors he opened for me. But then he died. I wanted to go to New York to work for Wittenborn. I had an interview and they offered me a job. But then I didn’t get that damn green card. So, without much thinking, I decided to start my own business, and opened my first shop here in Cologne on Breitestrasse. It used to be the store of a newspaper vendor who ran an illegal bar in the back, and the place had all these restrooms. It was this little space full of toilets: two for women, two for men, and pissoirs. Of course we renovated and changed everything.

When was this?

This was in the March of 1968.

So that was the birth of your publishing business?

No, the publishing house started a year before and was initially called Gebrüder König Verlag. Kasper lived in New York with Barbara Brown, a photographer. At this time, Franz Erhard Walther was in NYC, too. He made a living by decorating cakes at night and that’s where he made his big Werksatz works. Kasper knew Walther well, and wrote to me saying that the two had a great idea for a book: “Hey, why don’t we start a publishing company?” I said, “That’s great, let’s do it.” So he and Walther took all these pictures in New York and made this wonderful book, OBJEKTE, benutzen.

Is it a blue book with red letters?

Exactly. It’s a wonderful book. The texts are like small statements. They sent me these clippings they had cut out of American newspapers and magazines to show me how to typeset it. I didn’t really know how to do any of that, so I went to Ernst Brücher, who owned the publishing house DuMont Schauberg. He was a legendary publisher, very experienced in the business, and you could say he taught me my profession and showed me how to make books.

So, as a mentor, he was for publishing what Mayer was for bookselling.

That’s right.

What was the next book you published?

The next book was House of Dust, by Alison Knowles.

The Fluxus pioneer who did “Make a salad.”

Right. And then she took a more feminist direction. She had written a poem, “House of Dust,” and was friends with a computer programmer. You have to remember, this was 1968. The programmer had access to the big data processing machines of the Pentagon. So he programmed this poem in a way where you have these verses that run continuously without repeating themselves, and it never stops making sense. And they wanted to make it into a book. Then, one day, this huge package arrived from Kasper with magnetic tapes. Now we had a problem, because here in Germany, there was just one computer in the entire country that could process all that data; it belonged to Siemens, which was in Munich at the time. So we got in touch with them and asked if they would print it for us. They said they would and that it would cost around 25,000 Deutsche Mark per hour. Of course, there was no way we could afford that. So we told them, “If you do this for us now, it will be good for your image when it becomes famous.” It worked. They said, “Okay, we will do it for free,” and actually printed it for us. A few weeks later, another package came with an endless pile of folded paper – that old computer paper with the holes on both sides. The stack of folded paper measured a meter and a half in height! By the way, have you seen our first catalog?

No, I haven’t.

Claus Böhmler designed it. It’s a heavy little catalog, and on the cover you see all these big cars parked on the side of the street. There’s a gap between those cars, into which he drew a car. It’s driving out of the parking spot, past all the bigger cars. That’s us! It was so naïve.

I am curious about Cologne’s situation in the 1960s. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

With the exception of London perhaps, to me, Cologne was the best place to be in Europe at the time. For what we wanted to do, Cologne was surely more interesting than Paris. Ludwig showed (the exhibition) “Kunst der 60er Jahre” in the fall of 1968. It had this legendary catalog by Wolf Vostell, which is actually unusable. It has a plexiglas back and is printed on silver and transparent plastic foil. It was an object. So it was a perfect time for a book store, because on the one hand you had Pop art, which was made to be published in books, and on the other you had conceptual art, which emerged around the same time and would have been unthinkable without books.

Would you say optimism was a factor?

It was total euphoria. It was also the time when the term “coffee table book” came about. It was fashionable to be interested in art – and I say that with no value judgment at all. It was just expected, when you had friends over, to have at least one book about Pop art, 60s art or Lichtenstein lying around. That was a positive development. Because some of these people, who were initially just interested in books as social symbols, became serious collectors in time.

Art put Cologne on the map then.

Absolutely. It brought a greater discussion to Cologne. Radio was the other big factor. We had an important broadcasting studio, the WDR. All big composers – John Cage, Georg Brecht, etc. – came to Cologne. That’s how Paik ultimately came to Cologne. So you had two scenes that were closely related. Merce Cunningham came to Cologne a few times – not to Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt.

Would you say Berlin today is comparable to Cologne back then?

Today, Berlin is the undisputed center. That’s where the artists live. In the last two years, 17 galleries moved from Cologne to Berlin, even though the collectors continue to live in the Rhineland. Berlin may not have the enthusiasm of Cologne in the 70s, but it is without a doubt Germany’s artistic and intellectual capital. In our book store on Museum Island, our customers are very discerning, and they ask a lot of us. We all find this an immense privilege, to work in such an intense atmosphere.

But there was something more exciting going on in Cologne in the late 60s and 70s?

That’s right. In 1968 you had the first art market in Cologne, and somehow everyone was completely euphoric. I still remember that’s when I first saw drawings by Hockney. I had never seen anything like that. It is still extraordinary today. I have had tremendous luck in my life, both in business and private life. Today, it would be a lot harder to do the things I did and see the things I saw.

How did the bookstore fit into this landscape?

The bookstore functioned as a kind of meeting place. It took a few years until the big publishers took us seriously and realized that there was a commercial potential behind it. But all the people who were making little books on their copy machines sent us their stuff. I still have all the books from Ed Ruscha, who started his publishing company with Heavy Industrial. He had no money at all, but really fancy stationary on which he wrote to me: “I made a new book. It’s called Lost Angels in the Apartment. It’s 8 Dollars and I’m including one. If you order 3 you get 30% off, and if you order 5 you get 35% off.” So I ordered 6.

And that’s how it was with Gilbert and George too?

Their first artist’s book, Side by Side, appeared with us in 1971.

With the famous photo of Gilbert and George and your son Franz as a baby in your window.

Exactly, with little Franz crawling on the floor by the door. We put the entire print run of 500 or 450 in our window, and the two – elegant as ever – are standing behind their books. The photo was never published.

Something else I find important is that you often worked with artists over long periods of time – sometimes 10, 20 or 30 years.

As a small specialized house, we try to operate like a literary publishing house. If we represent an artist, we like to do it completely. That is very important to us – to be an artist’s publisher. We have worked with artists before anyone was interested in them. People like Anna Blume and Bernhard Johannes Blume – he is not a popular artist, yet still, every year we do a book with him. That’s a long-standing collaboration that is important to us. The most successful book we have published is Fischli and Weiss’ “Findet mich das Glück.” We have done 3 books together.

The question book by Fischli/Weiss?

The question book. Peter Fischli called and said, “Listen, I have a new book, do you want to publish it?” And I said, “We will be happy to.” He replied, “But you don’t even know what it is. You’re just going to agree to publish it like that?” To which I said, “We stand by our artists. Even if sometimes that means publishing something that’s not-so-great, we can handle that too.” And it turned out to be the most successful book we ever published.

Tell me about your collaboration with Hanne Darboven. You have always said that was very intense. And you made some almost utopian books with her, certainly some of your most extravagant books.

We came in contact with her very early on. One of our main areas of interest is artist’s books – autonomous works of art in book form. Hanne was perfect for that. Her ideas about book publishing are as radical as the rest of her work. We made incredible books with her. One consists of 127 volumes and Kulturgeschichte consists of 1,800 big plates. We made the Schreibzeit, which is printed on vellum. It is approximately 15,000 pages in 32 volumes. Those are cornerstones of our company’s history. Another book that should be mentioned, which is very important to me, is Hier und jetzt: Tun was zu tun ist, which we made with Jörg Immendorf in 1972. You could say it’s a political artist’s manifesto. These were books we believed in one hundred percent. We were euphoric; convinced the world was waiting for our books, and that they would just be eaten up. So we did these huge print runs, like 3,000 copies of the Immendorf book – you could still get it 2 years ago. The collaborations with important artists lie at the heart of our business, even today.

Speaking of business, we haven’t talked about the Antiquariat. I was in Stockholm a few weeks ago and Daniel Birnbaum showed me this old Antiquariat there. He said this is a very important place for Walther König. So far we talked about book-selling and publishing. Now we need to cover the third dimension: your used-books business. What’s the connection to Stockholm?

The Antiquariat is an essential part of our working universe. There are many books that are of great interest, and I don’t mean for bibliophiles or collectors, but really just as concrete information. For instance, I’m sure there is a Beckmann biography from thirty years ago that made an important contribution to the artist’s reception, but it’s out of print. It’s also not particularly valuable. Still it’s an important addition to what is being offered on the subject at the moment. And because we are a specialized bookstore – and we see ourselves as such, similar to a law or medical bookstore (just that our books are much nicer looking) – it is absolutely necessary to have such items that aren’t generally available anymore ready for our customer. That’s why we have always had an Antiquariat. But there is another explanation. A well-known old-book dealer from Amsterdam once said there was nothing nicer for him than to find a rare, expensive book at a low price and to resell it for more money. I have to say, that applies to me as well. I get a lot of satisfaction from being a business man; I have no interest in being a librarian. I like books, but I like the trade of books just as much. To put it bluntly: buy as cheap as possible and sell as expensive as possible. That definitely appeals to me.

Can you tell me about extraordinary books you are doing with Gerhard Richter?

We are proud to represent Gerhard Richter. The first book we did with him was for the RAF cycle in Krefeld. That was the beginning.

That relationship has intensified in the last 4 or 5 years, which is great.

With Richter, we are especially lucky because he is exceptionally interested in books as an important element within his body of work. So of course his catalogs always look great, but he also sees it as an independent medium that is essential to his general conception. I think the Eis book we just published is one of his greatest works, because it really makes his methods clear – you could even say, somewhat exaggeratedly, his credo. He has an excellent eye and really knows how to translate a very specific vision into a book. You see that in the finished work, which is rare. It’s fascinating to stand next to him and watch him work on these books. Sometimes a book is ready but something is missing, a list “tick,” and it’s difficult to find out what it is. Richter will take the book apart at this stage and lay it out on big tables in his studio. Then he will walk past it for a couple of weeks. And suddenly, one day, he will give the book a new dramatic tension, just by taking page 3 and placing it on position 35, and vice versa, or by tweaking the sequence in other very minor ways. Suddenly it’s right; it just works perfectly. That is a talent. I think books have opened possibilities for him that he did not have before with paintings or drawings. Especially with Eis, he has done new things with those possibilities. I really love this book.

I love that book too. It’s like a toolbox.

I never had an experience like that with any artist; it’s the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen. He also has a great feeling for text. Normally text is only a compositional means – just like the image and the open space. But you can also give in to the text and actually read it. For instance, if you read the text in War Cut, which is actually quite difficult, after a while the eye focuses and sees airplanes and guns – things associated with war. It’s similar with Wald, except here you see bushes and trees. It’s kind of crazy the way the text works. And for Eis, we looked for really long time, until we found this encyclopedia from the 19th Century, before Greenland had even been discovered. It’s fantastic to read this text that’s kind of naive and carefree and talks, for instance, about these little people with bow legs without deforming them. It’s just wonderful. Richter uses all these different layers. I think there are a lot of people who don’t read the text in Eis, who see it only as a formal device, but they should read it. It really adds another punch.

Is there any big project you haven’t done yet? Any unrealized dreams?

Of course I have so many ideas of things I want to do. There is one thing that I never made reality, and that will never be realized the way I would have liked it. For years, Sigmar Polke and I talked about doing a big monograph. He was one of our best clients. No other outsider knew our bookstore as well as he did. He regularly came in whenever he was in Cologne and he was very demanding. He was interested in working on this monograph, but said that he would need time for it. That’s because he wanted to do it himself, instead of delegating it to someone else. He said, “Of course we will find an author. I have a few people in mind, but I have to be present. And at the moment I don’t have the time for it, but as soon as I can, we are going to make this book.”

But he never got around to it.

That’s right, he passed away before we could make this book. He was extremely critical and always had very specific ideas about his books and catalogs. Like the Zurich catalog, which he did all himself – he was very unhappy with it. He was difficult with books, as he was with giving compliments. The last book he made, he said, “You didn’t do too bad a job.” But he was a wonderful bookmaker. We made a book about “Achsenzeit” – the works that were shown at the Venice Biennale and later were hung so poorly at the Punta delle Dogana. It was very important to him and took about a year as well. He talked to our lithographers for hours, exhausted every possibility. That’s why I was very affected by his death, because I know we would have done many more great things together. Now, we are thinking of doing the Monograph without him, but I don’t have any specific ideas of what it might be like. So there are always projects like that, that I would love to do. But I will only tell you about them after you turn that recorder off.

Ok. Before I do that, what about projects that are actually in the works?

We are adding to the block of artist’s books by Gerhard Richter, which over the last few years has become an important, autonomous area within his body of work. After War Cut, Sindbad, 128 Pictures, and Eis, we are about to come out with Patterns, perhaps his most ambitious and radical book to date. It consists of 221 cuts through an abstract painting from 1990, which lead into a new image world, printed in seven colors on plates that are each 80 centimeters wide. Then, in the fall, we will have a new book by Fischli and Weiss and a book by Gabriel Orozco. I’m also excited that we’re releasing Thomas Schüttes Public Political; we have been working on it for over a year.

To end – a question of preference: iPad or Kindle?

Personally, I don’t use an iPad, or a Kindle. I tried it, and think those devices are ideal to perform certain tasks, but they will never replace artist’s books, not even art books.