The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This brief poem by Gego was originally written in German in 1935. It is dedicated to her mother (Elizabeth Dehn) with the phrase “For Mom from Gertrud.” It begins with the line “I built a castle in the air,” after which the young Gego speaks of the photographic narrative of the family vacation (“five blessed days”) that she made after returning to Stuttgart (Germany), where Gertrud—who had not yet assumed the artistic name Gego—studied architecture and engineering. She recalls the joy she felt spending time with her family in nature, enjoying the mountains, trees, meadows as well as the journey and adventure. It is with a touch of humor that Gego closes, telling her mother, in reference to the photographs enclosed that have inspired the poem, “[…] And whatever they are missing / You can add on!”
Written in 1935, Für Mutter von Gertrud [For Mom from Gertrud] is a brief letter in the form of a poem that Gego (Gertrud Goldsmith 1912–1994), a Venezuelan artist of German origin, sent to her mother with a group of photographs; Gego, who was twenty-three at the time, was in Stuttgart, and her mother, Elizabeth Dehn, lived in Hamburg. Four years later, in 1939, she would arrive in Venezuela escaping Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany. When “Gertrud” wrote this poem, she had no idea that she would become a visual artist, let alone adopt the name “Gego.” Nor did she have the slightest inkling—as she herself stated clearly in a number of interviews— that she would live in Latin America for the rest of her life. This is the earliest of Gego’s writings, and it belongs to the artist’s children. Original versions [of some of her writings], including this text (under the title “Testimonial 14: For Mom from Gertrud”) were selected by Josefina Manrique and María Elena Huizi, compilers and organizers of the book Sabiduras y otros textos de Gego / Sabiduras and Other Texts by Gego [(Houston and Caracas: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Fundación Gego, 2005), pp. 246–49]. In the introductory note, Manrique and Huizi explain that this brief letter dates from the years when Gego was studying architecture at the Technische Schule von Stuttgart, far from her family home in Hamburg. In September 1935, during her school vacation, Gego and her parents met in Hochfluh in central Switzerland, where they enjoyed the local mountain setting. Months later, back at school, Gego prepared a folder with photographs taken during the trip to send to her mother for her birthday. The poem accompanied those photographs. The technical description of the manuscript that appears in the aforementioned book reads as follows: “Manuscript / For Mom from Gertrud / 1935 / Photocopies of document typed in black ink / bond writing paper / 2 pages / 27.8 x 21.6 cm / Original in German (Für Mutter von Gertrud).” For those familiar with Gego’s art, it is not hard to find in this youthful poem a glimpse of Gego’s sweet nature, free spirit, ingenuity, and simplicity. The light and fresh images suggest a sense of lyricism, as well as a deep connection with nature. Similarly, Gego’s commentaries on the photographs, which speak of “what can be seen” and “what cannot be seen” (understood as that which cannot be seen but can be added by the imagination), is a distant foretelling of what, years later, would be remarkable about Gego’s art.