Thüringer Wald: hier entdecken Sie Thüringen

Gerhard Bätz & Manfred Kiedorf

In the beginning was boredom

At the age of 14 and 15 respectively, Gerhard Bätz and Manfred Kiedorf met at technical college in Sonneberg, Thuringia. Thanks to their talent for drawing, they were both supposed to complete an apprenticeship as commercial salespersons. While there, they sat in a class for salesmen at the commercial school and had to deal with such exciting topics as accounting and bookkeeping. The resulting boredom was the birth of the game of their lives.

  • born in Sonneberg in 1938, nursery was Oskar Bätz's »Farben- und Spielzeugindustriebedarfsartikelhandlung«
  • 1951 to 1953 apprenticeship as a commercial worker in Sonneberg
  • 1955 to 1959 in Erfurt and Weimar, studied painting and drawing with Horst Jährling, Otto Paetz and Alfred Ahner, occasional work as an advertising decorator in Thuringia
  • 1960 Employment and training as restorer at the German Toy Museum in Sonneberg
  • 1975 accepted into the Association of Fine Artists of the GDR, Restoration and Arts and Crafts Section
  • 1977 and 1982 Participation with miniatures in the VIII. and IX. Art exhibition of the GDR in Dresden, further exhibitions in Fürstenwalde, Berlin, Unterwellenborn etc.
  • 1986 expatriation from the GDR, study trips to Italy and France
  • 1988 to 2000 worked as restorer in Fulda
  • 1936 born in Berlin as the late arrival of two siblings, the father a postmaster
  • 1949 apprenticeship as a toolmaker
  • 1951 to 1953 apprenticeship as a commercial artist in Sonneberg, 1955/56 together with Gerhard Bätz in Erfurt and Weimar
  • 1956 to 1960 student of stage design with Heinrich Kilger at the Berlin-Weißensee Art Academy
  • 1960 as stage designer at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin
  • 1961 to 1965 draughtsman under Hannes Hegen at »Mosaik«, occasional work as press draughtsman (satire)
  • from 1965 works for the television station Berlin-Adlershof, for the Maxim Gorki Theatre and for the Volksbühne Berlin
  • 1970 admitted to the Association of Visual Artists of the GDR
  • from 1973 freelance work as a draughtsman and illustrator, model maker for DEFA, museum designer for the Museum of German History Berlin, the Post Museum Berlin, Falkenstein Castle and for Branitz Castle, among others
  • died in Berlin in 2015 on 1 January at the age of 78

The starting material for this game was a few simple stalk stones that were transformed into kings and dukes under the school desk. Bätz and Kiedorf devised their own kingdoms, invented names for their rulers and assembled entire armies from differently painted stalk stones. Even in this early phase, the focus was on a world view modelled on the »Golden Age« of the Baroque and especially the Rococo.

It must have been above all the play with shapes and colours that was the attraction for the two boys. In contrast to the economy of scarcity that surrounded them in the »real existing socialism« of the GDR, Bätz and Kiedorf had every opportunity for unlimited splendour. At the beginning, they worked on their project with a certain naivety, since they had hardly any knowledge of history or architectural history. This changed through intensive reading and excursions to castles in the surrounding area, with Rudolstadt's Heidecksburg Palace being chosen as one of their favourite castles. The detailed knowledge of the preferred era grew steadily and formed the basis for the stylistic authenticity of its buildings that is so impressive today. In terms of splendour and splendour, they can certainly compete with the great historical models, even though they were created from the simplest materials such as wire, paper and plaster.

But it was not just a matter of reconstructing an idealised era. Instead, they reshaped, recombined and created a completely different accentuated image in which the historical template and creative ingredients merged. The result was something completely independent. For the real significance lay less in the pompous appearance of the castles than in their function as a playground for imagined figures. In contrast to museum models of castles, their palaces were inhabited by hundreds of individuals with names, family trees and all kinds of foibles.

Humour was and is an important means of expression for Bätz and Kiedorf. By giving the characters of their fantasy world funny names and writing silly rhymes on them, they were exposed and are exposed to the merciless laughter of the viewer. But also in the architecture, which initially captivates with its monumental splendour, a break in the formal austerity was made with much wit. Be it through surprising sceneries in its interior or through the insertion of strange sculptural ornaments in dubious premises.

Their extensive correspondence plays a central role in understanding Bätz and Kiedorf's total work of art. Since their lives parted ways in 1957, they have kept their shared passion alive through a lively correspondence. In addition to everyday experiences, this correspondence also describes developments in the invented kingdoms and provides information about progress in the use of materials and technology. The more than 2,500 letters are now in the possession of the Thuringian State Museum Heidecksburg. They form an inexhaustible source of information about the artists' lives and provide an intimate insight into the sophistication of their creation.

1952|53 Joint foundation of the miniature kingdoms of Pelaria and Dyonia

1959 Coronation of Queen Cicilie of Pelaria

1961 Founding of religion by philosopher Caesar Bull

1961 Pezanian is introduced as a separate language for clerics

1962 The measure 1:50 is introduced under King Henry IX of Dyonia - hence later also called »Henry the Very Great«

1962 Geonardi II succeeds Peter III of Pelaria on the throne

1963 Introduction of the centus calendar – one earth year corresponds to about 50 centus years

1965 The first democrats appear in Dyonia

1966 Coronation of Geonardi V of Pelaria on 5th february

1966 600th slideing anniversary on 10th june

1966 Henry XIV of Dyonia declares war on Geonardi V of Pelaria on 20th december

1970 Revolution in Dyonia | Foundation of the Republic of Jonesia

1970 Invasion of Pelarian regiments in Dyonia

1972 Geonardi VI of Pelaria is dethroned by Duke Lidento

1973 Talari III takes over the government in Pelaria on 10th january and in Dyonia the conservative King Richard finally abolishes democracy

1978 Introduction of the congruence of time measures – Centus time calculation is finally abandoned

1987 After a long pause, a new building boom begins in Dyonia

1989 uilding is also resumed in Pelaria

1990 Beginning of the »Golden Age« on the praised island, all warlike activities are finally stopped

1994 Itinerant preacher Brother Holz Theer, Gruderich Theer appears in Dyonia and condemns the lack of respect for the gods (demands chapels)

1994|95 First exhibition of the Castle Worlds in the German Toy Museum in Sonneberg, further exhibitions follow throughout Germany

1999 Vision of the sister Grudemunde about the origin of Grudeherd

2000 Reinhild and Peter Schneider publish the first publication on the subject at Kunstverlag Gotha

2004|05 Thuringian State Museum Heidecksburg presents »Rococo en miniature« in a special exhibition

2006 Decision: The Castle Worlds remain at Heidecksburg Palace for good

2007 The exhibition is opened in the court kitchen of Heidecksburg Palace

2010 The 100,000th visitor is welcomed

2018 The exhibition is extended to include a room and the Musenhof castle and a castle theatre