Artist Gunther Kieser (1930- ) belongs to the class of artists whose lifestyle and thought process find their way into their work with startling impact. Laymen experience his posters; experts appreciate them. Kieser says that he sees poster design as a challenge “to translate a mental image into a real image” (Kieser, p. 12). His usual method is to create that image in a solid form, like a sculpture or collage, and then take a photo of it. His objective determines his mode of expression; all he wants to do is communicate an immediate, powerful impression, and in this he succeeds brilliantly.
The American Folk Blues Festival was a music festival that toured Europe beginning in 1962. These captivating posters by Kieser are from 1964 and 1965.
German jazz publicist Joachim-Ernst Berendt first had the idea of bringing original African-American blues performers to Europe. Jazz had become very popular, and rock and roll was just gaining a foothold, and both genres drew influences directly back to the blues. Berendt thought that European audiences would flock to concert halls to see them in person.
Promoters Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau would bring this idea to reality. By contacting Willie Dixon, an influential blues composer and bassist from Chicago, they were given access to the blues culture of the deep South. The first festival was held in 1962, and they continued almost annually until 1972, after an eight year hiatus reviving the festival in 1980 until its final performance in 1985.
Blues musicians who performed include: Big Mama Thornton, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Lonnie Johnson, Son House, Big Joe Williams, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, John Lee Hooker, Skip James, Sleepy John Estes, Little Brother Montgomery, Victoria Spivey, Sippie Wallace, Fred McDowell, J. B. Lenoir, Little Walter,Carey Bell, Louisiana Red, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Joe Turner, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Memphis Slim, Magic Sam, Otis Spann and Willie Dixon. Many of the concerts were released on a long-running annual series of records, which was collated again for release in the 1990s.