While making their German-language comic debut in "Fix und Foxi Nr. 20" within the story "Prince Edelhart and the Smurfs" in 1969, the Smurfs itself celebrated their debut in the world of high art during the ninth edition of the documenta in 1992. The German installation artist and art historian Wolfgang Strack (born 1956) staged the little blue creatures with their white pointed caps mirroring art.


The characters, invented in 1958 by the Belgian cartoonist Peyo (Pierre Culliford, 1928-1992), were exhibited as miniature plastic sculptures in the former Gerhart-Hauptmann School, today Dock 4 house and the current location of the documenta archive, in the immediate vicinity of the Museum Fridericianum. In two rooms on specially manufactured pillars and under Plexiglas pedestals, the mythical blue creatures in their display cases turned elevated works of contemporary art.


A leporello, which can be found in the records of documenta archiv gives a visual impression of the way in which this process of consecration took place. One smurf stood upside down referencing Georg Baselitz, another smurf in royal robe with a sceptre in the shape of a toadstool mounted on a walnut-shell helicopter refers to Ayşe Erkmen's (born 1949) contribution "Sculptures on air" at the Sculpture Projects Münster in 1997. For this artistic project, a helicopter with an attached sacred sculptures was in hovering over Münster Cathedral.


And so every smurf created by Strack helps to further explore the seriousness of things adequately. Because for many things it often simply needs the appropriate form of "art-laughing".


These and other aids helping to understand can be viewed at the documenta archiv at any time. Come and visit us in our reading room and immerse yourself in our web of small curiosities and other oddities.


Michael Gärtner