'Pictures for the Sky' : One Man's Inspired Vision

Ben Ruhe
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A lawyer by training, Dr.Paul Eubel changed his career in mid-stream from being Germany's leading contemporary expert on the Japanese legal system to a cultural affairs officer representing his country in Japan. He got himself posted to Osaka to head the Goethe Institute there, Germany's equivalent of the United States Information Agency.

Having collected some small, choice Japanese kites, Eubel was struck by the superimposition of one of those traditional kites on a pane of glass framing a painting by Antonio Tapies, the noted Spanish artist. This suggested to him a collaboration between contemporary Oriental and Western art and traditional Japanese kite-making. The idea for the monumental exhibition "Pictures for the Sky" was born.

Eubel, who speaks fluent Japanese as well as five other languages, learned to use Osaka's traditional rivalry with Tokyo to promote-and fund-his various cultural brainstorms (for example, he had Japanese children update and "complete" traditional Grimm fairy tales), but he felt the kite idea so novel he kept it a secret from superiors in fear of being ridiculed.

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