Embrace the air, go, without limits
Wave to her last time
And I sit down
And above me a cheering and waving wind
Everybody up ! And I try to do magic
Declaration of love to the wind
Up ! you trees, now you will be my path
Spare me the thought
That I cannot name a destination

During the shooting of the film "These Poems" in 1975, spontaneous poems and recitations.  


On the painting of Vlado Kristl 

Vlado Kristl's early work is commented on more often than his late work. The works of the 1950s, which were created in the context of the EXAT 51 group and somewhat later in connection with the New Tendencies , can be grasped and comfortably classified in terms of art history. The pictures after that, from 1963 onwards, have to do with his move to Germany and his involvement beyond the Iron Curtain. They were more open in style, more solitary and thus less contextualisable.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, he was preoccupied with geometric abstractions that seamlessly followed the traditions of Constructivism, the Bauhaus and other European avant-gardes. Elementarisation, grid structures, monochrome are keywords that can be used to describe the disciplined stringency of this impressive phase of his work. With these works, Kristl made a decisive contribution to the visual arts of the 20th century. 

Retrospectively, the break with the New Tendencies is very precise in time. From his arrival in Munich in 1963, Kristl radically changed his style.  

Kristl immediately joined the experimental and underground scene in Munich, and thus clearly left his mark on artistic creation in the 1960s and 1970s in the FRG. His painting shifted to the figurative, with intense colourism. Kristl moves in the direction of representational Neo-Expressionism, but with a humorous and provocative background. This is the reason why parallels are often drawn with earlier works by Georg Baselitz. Since Kristl transforms his figures, which are mainly female, young and beautiful, surrealistically, one also senses a connection to Marc Chagall.

Kristl paints oil paintings, draws endlessly and produces numerous posters and silkscreens. On the one hand his productions are politically and socially critical, on the other hand he also paints flower still lifes, landscapes, girls, cats and creates bombastic frames from a wide variety of materials.

Looking back, it is clear that these " pseudo-sweet " works in particular provoked and unsettled the art world. Kristl was counted among the forerunners of the " bad painting " movement, which was very popular in Germany in the 1980s, but this was not necessarily to his liking. Nevertheless, it led to his being appointed professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg in 1979.

Kristl continued to seek further horizons in painting until the end of his life. In his last creative phase, which he spent mainly in the south of France, he drew on older paintings to bring out something new from what had already been created. Seen through today's eyes, there is a clear connection with the " Destructive Art " artists of the 20th century. Even if the expression is not the same, there are parallels with, for example, Gustav Metzger or John Latham, who went into action with the same motives.

 But since Vlado Kristl never wanted to be subordinated to a style, the proposal on this website is to drop any classification and feel free to discover or experience his paintings in a personal way.

The common thread is the following : Kristl's artistic work is always to be seen as a holistic entity and is directed against any kind of programming and standardization. What he painted, filmed, wrote, said and did was on the one hand directed towards the dissolution of boundaries and on the other hand against conventional expectations. 

"Leopoldstrasse, illustrative academic style (right portrait of Angela Davis)", Munich 1971, oil on canvas, 100 x 131 cm
"The Last Ferry", 1983 Hamburg, oil on canvas, coloured glazed ceramic, metal, 138 x 132 cm
"The Poet Boy", oil and pencil on cardboard, 33 x 41 cm
Vlado Kristl,1962, "Variants and Variabile", Contemporary Art Gallery, Zagreb. Photo : Tošo Dabac


Vlado Kristl came to film as a draughtsman. He quickly made a name for himself at international film festivals with his animation work for Zagreb Film. His first live-action film, "The General and the Serious Man", met with political resistance in Yugoslavia and led to Kristl's exile. In Munich, he made several short and feature-length films in the Young German Cinema environment and achieved cult status as a radical filmmaker. Later in Hamburg, then in the South of France and shortly before his death again in Munich, he continued to make live-action and animated films. In total, he made more than 40 short and feature-length films. Kristl's films are regularly shown at international film festivals. 

"The General and the Serious Man" - "General i resni človek", Yugoslavia 1962. 


On the poetry of Vlado Kristl

From the point of view of time and place, the poetry of Vlado Kristl can be divided into 2 creative periods for the time being: The beginnings consist of 2 poetry collections published in Croatia and in Croatian. Everything that followed was written and published by Vlado Kristl in German and in German. This is connected with the fact that Vlado Kristl left Zagreb in former Yugoslavia forever at the age of 40, emigrated to Germany and never returned.   

The difference between the two lyrical periods of Vlado Kristl, which are thus separated, is perhaps less based on linguistic, cultural or political backgrounds than on the fact that his first volumes of poetry " Neznatna lirika " - ("Insignificant poetry") and " Pet bijelih stepenica " - (" Five white steps ") were written by a young man. One to whom the happy places of his childhood are still close and within reach in all their glory. One who is still able to hope, dream and write love poems. One who creates utopias and also believes in them.

From 1965 Vlado Kristls first poems written in Germany were published. In 1966 the poetry collection " Geschäfte, die es gibt es nicht " (Businesses that do not exist) appears in the Edition Wolfgang Längsfeld (Munich). Vlado Kristl also writes for other publications, he participates where and when there is a possibility for a publication.

Vlado Kristill's poems are underlain by a subtle irony typical of him and sometimes accompanied by an aggressive, plaintive tone, which proves that the author is and remains a stranger. While Kristls youthful poetry is not yet closely related to his painting and film work - for it is independent and comes from its own sources - other developments will take place in Germany in this respect. Everything that Kristl does and can do in different artistic directions will increasingly come together and develop in parallel. In one of his later animated films, you only see sheets of drawings and poems that fill the whole film screen. As if the only function of film was to serve poetry and the " true art ".

Thematically and metaforically, Vlado Crystal's entire opus is pervaded by the same thread: life, death, infinity, birds, animals, seas, clouds, open and closed windows and doors. Above all, it is also about revolutions, uprisings and the "resistance of a lonely man", this increasingly important theme for Vlado Kristl.

"I am the only life in space" is the motto of a self-published book of poems, or "Man is only the I" in another passage. Wherever injustice prevails or barriers are erected against free creativity, this I-human being has to offer resistance.

In 1969, Vlado Kristl created the book "Mundmaschine" (Mouth Machine), with its uniquely beautiful graphics and drawings, as an accompaniment to his parallel animated film "The Utopes", made directly from the film material. Here you find the often quoted sentence: "A failed rebellion is still better than the thick air in paradise".

Vlado Kristl is always looking for new ways, experiments in writing his poems, smashes them, pulls a lyrical unity into the opposite, shortens it so that the statement is open to the point of ignorance and the poem works differently.

Perhaps Kristls freely-associated poetry, which he usually spoke spontaneously and offhand in the open air, is one of his most accomplished poems. These were recorded in the form of texts that he spoke directly into the tape recorder during filming - like "Embrace the Air" - see above.