Günter Grass Dog Years / Hundejahre

Günter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk would like to invite you to a vernissage of the “Günter Grass | Dog Years / Hundejahre” exhibition. At 4G, Günter Grass’s graphics for the novel which is a part of the so-called Danzig Trilogy – apart from such works as “The Tin Drum” and the “Cat and Mouse” will be presented. This interdisciplinary exhibition will also include audio recordings and first drafts of the novel. The exhibition will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of publishing the “Dog Years” novel. 

Gdańsk exhibition dedicated to “Dog Years” is accompanied by an exceptional review by professor Stefan Chwin on the occasion of publishing the first issue of the novel.

Graphics which are the property of the City of Gdańsk are presented at the Günter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk for the first time. They are accompanied by artist’s drawings from the 50s and the 60s. Together with numerous documents in the form of letters and paintings from the archives of the Academy of Arts of Berlin, the German Dance Archives in Cologne, the German Theatre Museum and the Austrian Theatre Museum, the exhibition shows an aesthetic diversity and political impact force of “Dog Years” as well as a range of projects based on this novel.

An institution behind the “Günter Grass | Dog Years / Hundejahre” organised on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of publishing the novel is Günter Grass House in Lübeck.

»The scarecrow is made in the image of man «

The art and society in Günter Grass’s “Dog Years”

Following the “Tin Drum,” the today’s Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature strengthened in 1963 his position of a linguistically fascinating storyteller with the second novel that had been anxiously awaited for: “Dog Years” are praised as an »inspiring fantasy« and almost uncontrollable »hailstorm of ideas« which would be able to provide the amount of material sufficient for more than one novel (Enzensberger). Driven by rhythmical and lyrical narrative created from episodic short stories, mystical interpolations and fantastic visions, Grass’s collage makes the portrait of the Free City of Danzig and the West Germany pre-war society already outlined in his debut novel even more deep. Even more clearly than in “The Tin Drum,” at the centre of “Dog Years” there lies art, the opportunities it offers and its limits in view of the deep crisis of humanist ideals, shaping literary images and metaphors of the novel that become engraved on one’s memory. The work of the protagonist, Eddie Amsel who is as fictitious as creative, making scarecrows and working as a ballet choreographer, applies to real artists such as Oskar Schlemmer and Harry Kramer, in addition to being reflected in art works of Günter Grass and his literary projects made in connection with the book: it is depicted in numerous drawings, in a radio play and a theatrical play, in a ballet and in a collection of etchings including more than one hundred pieces made by Grass last year as an addition to the anniversary edition of the novel. Starting from still up-to-date and, with reference to the novel, almost unexplored field of tension between art and the society we dedicate to “Dog Years” this temporary exhibition on the occasion of the celebrated 50th anniversary.

Similarly to the novel divided into three parts, the exhibition is to present the concept of Amsel’s art in three stages: 1) Scarecrows that were build before the war and »seemed lifelike« and »if you looked at them long enough, they were full of life« and had this quality that they could »disrupt the country-like calm steps of a man«; 2) the activity of the artist as a ballet master during World War II and 3) his infernal mine of scarecrows which, located in thirty two crown boxes presents nothing less than the analysis of ideological and historical formation of ›post-war Germany.‹

Audio documents from first radio readings of “Dog Years” by Grass (Günter Grass’s Media Archives – Günter Grass Medienarchiv) will be used as an introduction to the novel equally well as writer’s original manuscripts, notes and sketches (the Archives of the Academy of Arts of Berlin – Archiv der Akademie der Künste Berlin). Such sources of inspiration as Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet (Triadisches Ballett), Harry Kramer’s mechanical puppet theatre (mechanisches Marionettentheater) and artistically inspiring first marriage with a ballet dancer Anna Schwarz will be depicted thanks to the Bauhaus Archives (Bauhaus-Archiv) and the Academy of Arts of Berlin (Berliner Akademie der Künste). At the very centre of interest there will however always remain artworks of the writer himself (Günter Grass House – Günter Grass Haus), in particular etchings by Günter Grass presented for the very first time in Poland this year (Steidl Verlag publishing house, the City of Gdańsk) which are the graphic commentary of the author.

Viktoria Krason


»A pompously hilarious moment of inspiration: an angel tapping on forehead. Muses with large frayed lips. Planets in the sign of Aquarius. A brick falls. An egg has two yolks. An ashtray is full. Something is dripping from a roof: celluloid. Short circuit. Hat boxes. Something is making a turn: a patent leather buckle shoe. Someone enters without knocking: Barbarina, the ice queen, snowmen. What is able to be stuffed: God, eels and birds. What is mined: coal ore potash scarecrows past.«

Dog Years, 1963

Gunter Grass | Dog Years / Hundejahre
Vernissage: April 11th, 6.00 p.m.
Exhibition: April 12th, 2014 – June 22nd, 2014
Curators: Viktoria Krason, Marta Wróblewska
Venue: Günter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk (4G) | Szeroka 34/35, 36, 37, Grobla I 1/2
The gallery is open Tuesday through Wednesday from 11.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday from 11.00 a.m. until 7.00 p.m.