The mostly-underrated American author Steven Millhauser has a way with names. Memorable personages to grace the pages of his novels and short stories include "Kaspar Hauser," "Hensch the Knife Thrower," and "Eisenheim the Illusionist." Well, Mr. Millhauser, should you-through some stretch of happenstance and fortuity-happen upon these words, I'd like to propose another, with the very same ring of old world doom and baroque decay: "Zeitlberger the Goldsmith." Thomas, that is, if you must have a first name, once and yet designer and sculptor, in addition to goldsmith, and lately fashioner of a kind of classical psychedelia in his series of wallpapers/murals for Marburg wallcoverings.
Designed by Thomas Zeitlberger for Marburg.
Zeitlberger's designs for Marburg remind me, in no uncertain terms, of that literary/philosophical phenomenon called The Modern. Just like the architectural mise en scene of a Millhauser novel, Zeitlberger's ambitious wall coverings imply order yet suggest chaos; evoke a staid symmetricality yet betray a slow, steady, and sublime unraveling. "Nepenthe," for instance, would seem to portray a sort of art deco sitting room. Yet close examination reveals a pronounced unhinging-the furnishings appear to float on air; the "mirrors" may in fact be protean portholes; and the boundaries between inside and out appear to have totally collapsed (yes, those are snails inching their way across the red-striped walls, the lush houseplants).
And how about "Salle de Sejour." Here, the careful orchestration of a Rococo parlour has descended into cacophony. Shades are torn asunder (or, I should say, delicately unraveled) to allow ingress of all manner of flying and creeping bug, who seem to be consuming the delicate fabric of the composition as if it were a lattice of nectar. A touch of the absurd and anachronistic-a vacuum cleaner sits idly and ineffectually by, a longhaired Chihuahua effects a placid demeanor, as if he were posing for a portrait by VelÃ¡squez.
And let's not forget "Solar," in which a bevy of busy bees colors the apparent calm of a French farmhouse kitchen with the infinite determination of the honeycomb collective, the multiplicity of hexagons threatening to subsume all: rooster, chopping block, and sunflower included.
There's no little bit of DalÃ herein. Or, better said, DalÃ had he been born twenty years earlier, just about the time Freud was forecasting his delirious nightmares for homo sapiens. But perhaps the best recommendation for Zeitlberger's wallpaper is this: I want them. Badly. I'd trade almost anything that's currently in my house for them, excepting my dogs (and my wife's away). The allure of these Zeitlberger prints is such that, if you put that question of exchange to her, she'd think on it with no little measure of earnest consideration, weighing the virtues of a husband against the visual and aural (and olfactory-you'll swear you can smell them) tour de force of Zeitlberger for Marburg.