The Art Page

News Release -- For Immediate Distribution -- 2/9/97
Psychedelic novelist Todd Brendan Fahey has purchased from the Amsterdam art gallery Anton Heyboerwinkel what is believed to be the bulwark of "The Logbook of the Ship Henry David Thoreau," an obsessive and intimate mixed media project of an expatriate American artist/mystic known pseudonymously as Viktor IV before his drowning death in Amsterdam in 1986.

While on assignment for Smoke magazine last November, Professor Fahey, author of the incendiary underground LSD novel Wisdom's Maw, claims he was "directed" to a particular shop on Prinsengracht, a canal street in downtown Amsterdam; after entering the shop, he was immediately struck by the idiosyncratic force of the works of a particular artist. "It was as if I were being beckoned into Aladdin's Castle from way out in some super-mall parking lot," says Fahey, of his experience. "I will never be able to put it into words; but there was a pull, a connection, and then, after studying the many `Logbook' pages for several days in this shop, there came a long moment of illumination."

Fahey describes this "illumination" as an ecstatic vision, in which he claims to have understood the mystical emphasis of much of the `Logbook' drawings.

"It's not entirely bizarre," says Fahey, who is currently completing his Ph.D. coursework in English at University of Southwestern Louisiana. "Allen Ginsberg had an experience one day, in his early twenties, where he heard and witnessed, or believes he did, the voice and personage of the mystic poet William Blake. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem `Kubla Khan' completely whacked in an opium trance. I was using psychedelics pretty heavily during the writing of `Fear & Loathing in Amsterdam' for Smoke, and feel as if I were privileged for a few days to some kind of Source. I had many things happen to me in Amsterdam -- very powerful moments of insight and registrations of the cosmic flow of things -- and during one of these moments, it was impressed upon me from without, that I should bring back to the U.S. these `Logbook' drawings of Viktor IV."

Born Walter Karl Gluck, the artist Viktor IV traveled to Amsterdam in the early 1960s and settled there, living on a ship he christened the Henry David Thoreau, after the philosopher who he claimed as his chief inspiration and muse. A burly, rugged figure, Viktor IV was recognizable amongst the quiet Amsterdam populace as the barefoot American hippie artist who dressed in black, loved cats and young women, and worked tirelessly on deeply personal and largely non-commercial projects aboard his canal-bound ship.

A master scuba diver, Viktor IV drowned in June of 1986, while performing underwater repairs to the Henry David Thoreau. Todd Brendan Fahey, a novice art collector, perceives in the "Logbook" pages the artist's fascination with the "ecstatic vision." In this way, he compares the drawings to the poem-paintings of American surrealist Kenneth Patchen. "There is that same relentless focus on the All-At-Once, that so characterizes the experiences of mystics in every religion and culture. The rich, interconnectedness of all things. That is what Viktor IV is expressing in these pages. And that is what I was feeling for much of my stay in Amsterdam; as much as I was really out of my head most of the time, I was, in another way, very grounded."

Unconcerned with commerce, Viktor IV created hundreds of these "Logbook" drawings in the original, with no known professional reproductions, from between 1966 and 1976, after which he turned his artistic vision to clockmaking. The bulk of individual pages of The Logbook of the Ship Henry David Thoreau is held by the Fodor Museum and the Stedelijk Museum, in Amsterdam, where the adopted artist is revered as a free spirit. Viktor IV visited the United States only a handful of times after emigrating to Amsterdam, and is believed to have held only one American gallery exhibition in his lifetime.

Professor Fahey hopes to arrange a traveling exhibition of his 35 pages from The Logbook of the Ship Henry David Thoreau, by the artist Viktor IV. Interested museums and art galleries in major American cities should contact Fahey at the following address:

Todd Brendan Fahey
c/o Far Gone Books


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