In 1997, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart’s archive was generously donated by the eponymous foundation in Rapperswil (near Zurich) to the Museum Wiesbaden. In many regards, this collection has proven to be a scholarly stroke of luck – it not only contains valuable autographs and typescripts, but also photographs and other documents that make it possible to gain an understanding of the artist’s career and life, and also of his professional and private circles.
Among the objects of particular importance – in addition to personal accounts, such as the autobiographical manuscript, of which only a fragment remains – are the outlines and final versions of presented talks. His artistic works are impressively documented by his workbooks and sketchbooks, exhaustively catalogued in an index file, while their relationships to other artworks, as well as to exhibition space and the public, are made comprehensible via associated photos or newspaper articles. The genesis, exhibition history, or even the sales histories of Vordemberge-Gildewart’s works are therefore made transparent.
The illustrated guestbook, the address book, a calendar, the artist’s library, and private photographs of the artist and his spouse also represent a special treasure of the archive. At the time it was not untypical for an artist’s wife Ilse Leda to conduct a majority of the correspondence. For this reason, the first organizing of the archival material and the final evolution of the archive can be traced back to Ilse Leda’s initiative. Due to the high number and special conservational requirements of individual objects, despite earlier measures taken by the museum, the necessity still exists to preserve the collection in its entirety in a way that is appropriate for the material, but that still allows research to be conducted in an expedient way. In the near future, the collection in its current state is to be catalogued in detail, and the documentation will be archived in a digital databank. Of course this will take some time to complete, but it will not alter the fact that scholars are welcome to visit the archive, which also contains the artist’s former library, in order to gain insight into the professional and private network of the artist, which included visual and other artists, artist groups, collectors, gallerists, publishers, and many other personalities.