Erhard Höβle (1929-2019)
Erhard Höβle passed away on July 25th at the age of 90. He will be remembered as a unique figure within the world of kiting of the second half of the past century.
A silversmith and sculptor, and for many years professor at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Nürnberg, within the span of several decades he developed a number of utterly original designs using some of them for his well-known man-lifting kite trains. The second photograph on the left shows his first man-lifting system based on Russell Hall kites which appeared at kite festivals all over Europe in the late 1980s.
Of all the people I have personally met in my life, Erhard was the one who most deeply impressed me for his artistry, skills, and power of imagination. He combined qualities rarely found in a single person: a highly developed craftsmanship (he could work easily with any material, from the lightest ripstop nylon to the heaviest of metals), the most refined aesthetical sense (which easily moved from the freedom of Nature to the science of man) and a visionary outlook that would allow him to define and extract new forms and shapes from the rich universe that he inhabited.
In 1991 DrachenMagazin published an article written by myself in which I tried to articulate thoughts and impressions that have not changed over the years. You can read that article here. Together with it there is another short article that appeared in 2005 in the Dutch magazine Vlieger. Curiously, although it shows the Höβle man-lifting system it only refers to the Russell Hall kite but makes no mention of the maker of the system. On re-reading my old piece I found it to be somewhat superficial. I have therefore written a new piece on the basis of information known or remembered which can be read here.
To me, Erhard Höβle was a maker not simply of kites but of birds, of air-spirits. Look at the kite shown in the photograph below and you will see that it has little to do with the familiar world of kiting as we have come to know it. It really has a bird-like quality suggesting life and meaning in the air. Erhard was a unique interpreter of the elemental forces and presences which sustain not just our physical but also our spiritual and aesthetical life.
Ruhe in Frieden, groβer Meister.
Dymchurch, Kent (Southern England) 1996
There are some inaccuracies in the old piece that I wrote for DrachenMagazin. Perhaps the main one is to do with the misattribution of the model "airplane" made with feathers and shown on p. 64 to Erhard Höβle. In actual fact such a model was made by Hermann Holzhauser (1926-2010) who wrote a delightful book titled "Federleicht - Modelle aus Vogelfedern" (Neckar-Verlag, 1991). Holzhauser and Höβle were good friends. A web page is available which displays many of his models. (http://www.rccaptain.de/HERMANNHOLZHAUSER.htm)