Visual Futurist

I met one of my childhood heroes – Klaus Bürgle, a German illustrator who painted technical visions of the future when I was a boy. Readers of this blog might remember a post from last year where I wrote about the website that I created for him together with Dr. Ralf Bülow, a collector of Bürgle’s work. I was a little bit proud that the website had reanimated his fame – there were lots of newspaper articles about him after it went live, and he even earns a little money with his paintings now. Every few weeks, people send me inquiries because they want to use a Bürgle image for their newspaper or book.

Mr. Meyer from the local art center in his hometown Göppingen (near Stuttgart) curated a wonderful exhibition of his work, showing lots of original paintings many of which I hadn’t seen before. Because I had supplied Mr. Meyer with some images and information about Bürgle, he kindly invited me and even paid the hotel. By a very convenient coincidence, my Ridhwan retreat not far from Göppingen had ended the day before, so it was an easy 1-hour trip for me to come to this event.

Bürgle, now aged 84 (shown here with his wife), turned out to be a very modest and kind man – he actually reminded me of my father a little bit. Because Mr. Meyer had already written an extensive interview with him, the interview I had planned with him was no longer necessary, and we could simply do some smalltalk which he also seemed to enjoy. I was surprised to learn that he still does technical drawing jobs for Mercedes and other companies now and then.

What an amazing man! Just like his American colleagues such as Chesley Bonestell or Robert McCall, he inspired a whole generation and got them interested in space and the future. I met several people during the vernissage who became engineers because they marvelled at Bürgle’s paintings when they were boys.

It was a pleasant surprise for me to also meet Professor Manfred Kage during the vernissage, a pioneer of microphotography with electron microscopes and similar technologies. Back in the early seventies, he published his amazing crystal photographs in the science magazines that also contained Bürgle’s paintings, and I knew his name since I was a boy. We had an interesting talk about the world of the very small, 3D fractals, and the movie Avatar that we both loved. He asked me to send him a DVD with my collection of Bürgle’s work, and he’ll send me one of his cutting edge microphotography DVDs in return. I love this stuff !!

Win-Win Situation

This morning, another company called me, wanting a Klaus Bürgle painting for the cover of their traffic/transportation magazine. This has been going on for a while now, once or twice a month, somebody wants to publish a Bürgle painting for a website, a CD, a newspaper article, a magazine. This makes me feel really good – I don’t earn anything with it but all of the money goes to the painter, Klaus Bürgle, aged 82 now. I know that he is not terribly rich, and that he is glad to get a little additional money on top of his little pension. It is good for him, good for me because I feel good about it, and good for the magazine and its readers too of course.

These Bürgle paintings were a part of my childhood in the early sixties. I was endlessly fascinated by these visions of a bright future in space, under the sea, in futuristic cities. I sort of forgot about these images but about two years ago, I started searching for them on Google, and was disappointed that there was almost nothing there. Very few people seemed to know him nowadays although he was somewhat popular in the fifties and sixties as an illustrator for books and magazines.

Eventually I found a collector in Berlin (Dr. Ralf Bülow) who had all the magazines with Bürgle images that I had loved in my childhood. I talked to him and suggested to set up a Bürgle website and he was enthusiastic about it. We contacted Bürgle and although he is not online, he gave us permission to create the website. A very nice and friendly man!

Bülow then actually sent me a big package with all his material, some of the images were even original paintings (most of the originals have disappeared, so there are only the magazine prints). I spent some days taking digital photos, scanning, photoshopping, and setting up the website – that was big fun.

The rest is history, as they say. The website took off at a breathtaking speed. There were articles in big magazines and on many websites. Retro-futurism is clearly en vogue! Today, if you google for Klaus Bürgle, the web is full of his images. I’m a little proud 🙂 (German language website)