Back in 2002, Anja Harms took the Dadaist poet and sculptor literally and captured the quirky wit of his ‘words that can only be painted’ in her artist’s book of the same name. Arp’s opening line, however, also describes a road which the book artist has been travelling for over four years together with sculptor Eberhard Müller-Fries. Together they probe the limits of their respective artistic genres, reconciling contradictions which – at least in terms of the nature of their materials – could not be more diametrical. Fire-blackened wood combines with the pristine white of laid paper; three-dimensional sculptures conceal words printed with lead type; etchings strive to become larger-than-life; accordion-folds seek to stand upright.

Small wonder that these perfectly crafted absurdities insist on going their own way! The objects explore the library and wait for visitors to discover them in the Malerbuchsaal, in the Augusteerhalle and between antique globes. They are reflected in the historical ambience of a culture of reading and knowledge that spans the centuries, yet they speak their own unique formal language. Here the artwork defines its own status: visitors can walk around book sculptures and view them from every angle or leaf through the artist’s books on display. This flies in the face of convention. But painted words are asking to be grasped.

Anja Harms is a book artist. Her works are characterised by clear shapes and expressive materials. Eberhard Müller-Fries, by contrast, is a sculptor. He prefers wood for his large-format sculptures.