33 Letter from Jef Verheyen to Hermann Goepfert, late April 1971, Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main, S1-383/4. 34 Letter from Jef Verheyen to Hermann Goepfert, 17 July 1970, Institut für Stadtge schichte Frankfurt am Main, S1-383/4. 35 Letter from Jef Verheyen to Hermann Goepfert, undated, Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main, S1-383/4. 36 Letter from Jef Verheyen to Hermann Goepfert, year not shown, Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main, S1-383/4. 37 Letter from Jef Verheyen to Hermann Goepfert, undated (ca. 1970), Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main, S1-383/4. 38 See Essay Tiziana Caianiello, “In the Midst of Infinity” — Flemish Landscape, S. 183-197) 39 Letter from Günther Uecker to Jef Verheyen, 31 March 1970, Verheyen Archive. 40 Letter from Günther Uecker to Jef Verheyen, 1 August 1971, Verheyen Archive.
In 1970, Verheyen contributed to two group exhibitions. The Museum Schloss Morsbroich in Leverkusen put its recent acquisitions on show, with Jef Verheyen represented in the monochrome painting section. Klaus Honnef launched the “Umwelt-Akzente” (Accent on the Environment) exhibition in Monschau. Verheyen took part with others including Jan Dibbets, Alf Lechner, Adolf Luther, Ulrich Rückriem and Stefan Wewerka. For Verheyen, Germany became ever-more appealing. “Here, everything is as usual, peaceful and beautiful. What’s happening in Germany? … France is a bit cut off and the people aren’t really European.”33 His trips to Milan became less and less frequent — “Milan is nothing now Fontana isn’t there any more. I’ve been here two days but the excitement has gone”34 — until he finally gave up visiting the northern Italian city: “The Roberto Grippa business is stupid. As far as I’m concerned Milan is finished […] — another good friend less.”35 His interest in Germany was also intensified by internal political changes. “Willy Brandt is tremendous. It’s fantastic what he has achieved in such a short time. The CDU should stick that in their pipe and smoke it!”36 He thought more and more about relocating his studio to Germany. He wrote: It’s a pity I can’t express myself very well in German, but in a year or two things are bound to improve. You are lucky to live in a big country; here it gets smaller and smaller every day. My colleagues here grow a year older with every day that passes, which makes life here rather boring. As soon as I can manage it, I’m out of here.37
Uecker often visited Verheyen in Antwerp. In 1967, they completed their joint project, “Vlaamse Landschappen” (Flemish Landscapes), not far from Ghent.38 They met in Venice where both were exhibiting at the 1970 Biennale. The two friends planned their meeting and their presentation: “Hey, Jef, I think this is going to be fun. I’ve been doing some good work. I should like to show my best work. I think you did the right thing, showing only large paintings. That way we shall both be strong, as strong as our friendship. Affectionately, G. Uecker.”39 In one letter, Uecker mentioned that he had been in contact with the director of the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Gerhard Storck, and encouraged Verheyen to write to him.40 The following year, 1971, it was Storck who contacted Verheyen because he intended to make a purchase from the gallery owner Hans Liechti and also wanted discuss a 179
monography of the works of Jef Verheyen