LETTERS & DOCUMENTS
An Autobiographical Statement 1967
"In 1956 I followed my husband to Tunis. It was a very different scene..." more
Michael Pflug's Biographical Statement 2000
"She did come to Tunis. In her first letter to my family she wrote..." more
INTERVIEWS & REVIEWS
Christiane Pflug: Interview with Avrom Isaccs, 1964
"...you showed with your husband in North Africa before..." more
(click art for larger view)
Still Life with Clock-face and Tiles
Life with Cupboard and Bottles
Bird-Cage with Pears
LETTERS & DOCUMENTS: Tunis 1956-69
Christiane Pflug postcard to Regine Faust, arrival in Tunis, November 21, 1956
This morning I arrived. The voyage was very quiet. Many thanks for your letters to Paris. In the end I had so much to do that I did not get to write you. Here it is beautiful, a warm sky and many blooming bushes. We have a nice room with a bathroom. I will soon write more.
Christiane Pflug to Regine Faust, Tunis, 20 XI 1956
Yesterday at noon I arrived. The passage was very
quiet, but in spite of that I didnt feel very well, and so
I was lying down most of the time. I had a cabin all for myself,
because there were so few passengers on board. The food was very
good, pity I couldnt have dinner, I only drank a bit of black
tea and went to bed. The boat arrived in the morning, it moves along
the banks of a canal with light houses on it and a road next to
it . The harbor is not very large, a cracked concrete quay and everywhere
sheds and warehouses. My large pieces of luggage had not been unloaded,
and we drove up right away; the hospital is very large with several
buildings, in one of which the interns are living, us included.
The room is very nice, large, with a bathroom next to it and a storeroom,
that is really nice for the luggage, our stretchers and everything
that one doesnt want to have around one in the livingroom.
There is a communal kitchen and a large dining room. One can order
the food in the hospital or cook for oneself. The dishes are being
washed, even if one cooks for oneself the kitchen will be cleaned
up, that is marvelous. Last night we went to town, in the Casbah.
Some of the old houses are very beautiful, white or light yellow
with columns and beautiful courtyards. On the street level there
are usually shops, open until late at night and one can buy anything
one wants. But really beautiful folk-art is difficult to find. This
morning we were in Tunis and walked close to the Great Mosque, the
nicest bazaars are there, the jewelers and carpet souks .
One of the stores has a cabinet with old Persian ceramics, most
of them in turquoise colored faience with black patterns, or white
with a blue pattern. They also have beautiful woven kelims in many
colors next to each other and old embroideries, especially beautiful
are the bedouin shawls, black with white or light blue embroidery.
The bedouin women are not veiled, all the other non-European women
are wearing the veil, and are wrapped in large sheets with woven
stripes, one only sees the feet and the eyes. Sometimes they only
hold the cloth in front of their face, some of them also have a
dense black veil in front of the face so you can only see the eyes.
It is warm, but a cool wind blows, everywhere bushes are in bloom,
it is very bright outside, as in May in Germany. From our window
we look down on a salt lake and further back long flat mountains,
it must look like Provence, I slept on the train. A large tree is
standing there, it looks like a willow, only with shorter but bushier
twigs, cacti are standing in front of the window with fruit which
are called Figues de Barbarie, and which have a very juicy taste.
Today at lunch we had a pomegranate, we put the many red kernels
in a bowl with sugar, but I like currents better.
xxxMany thanks for your two letters, with the rose petals in one of them.
The other one I opened and only then I realized that it was addressed
to Michael. But the letter inside was for me anyway. Sylvias
mother came only at the very end. The father is still traveling.
In the end I didnt give her the letter, because she wouldnt
understand it at all. Besides that a few years ago she had electro-shock,
she had a mental illness and since then shes quite changed,
always very nice and cordial when one is there but not capable to
discuss things which are outside of her daily life. Therefore please
dont be angry with me, I thought it would be better that way.
You were writing me in your last letter that you couldnt write
me here in the same way because I wouldnt get it anyway, but
that isnt like that at all, I would always get all of my letters
and yours anyway. It is really very beautiful and quiet here, and
outside of a cold which I got on the boat, Im feeling very
well. I made another parcel for you in Paris, "sweets"
and various things, but then I didnt get to mail it and I
gave it to an acquaintance to do it for me. Now you wont get
anything from me in time for Christmas, only the book, which is
in Mummis crate, everything else you will get later. We want
to send you a Tunisian blanket, there are very beautiful ones here,
woven in wool with very discrete colors but for the moment we cant
afford it and it wouldnt get there before Christmas anyway.
We also have seen beautiful jewelry, silver bangles for the ankles
of bedouin women and Fatma Hands in silver or gold and small golden
necklaces made out of ringlets with beautiful closures. The European
quarters are not as nice, the architecture is quite mixed and there
is a strange colonial style. Some of the shops are quite nice, everything
is much cheaper than in France. There are a few cinemas but with
bad films and the theater stays closed most of the time, but we
didnt come here for that.
xxxIt is really very beautiful here and I often wish we were not so far apart, if one could at least talk on the phone. I think I will like it here and you must not be sad, Im thinking a lot of you and one day we will get together again.
xxxMany regards for Peter and Micki. The "sweets" parcel is for her too.
Christiane Pflug to Luise Pflug, Tunis, November 27 1956
Now I am already for over a week here and I have not written yet. Many thanks for your letters to Paris and the address of Madame Rolland. I got my Visa in two days without difficulties, but I had more to do with my luggage, but I did not have the time to call her. It was quite simple in the end, a night train to Marseille, in the morning to the harbor and onto the boat, which left at noon. I had a nice cabin with a window to the outside and I was lying most of the time even though the sea was very quiet. I arrived the next noon, the sun was shining and it was rather warm, quite different from Paris, where there was already snow in the air.
xxxIt is very beautiful here, as warm as in March at home and all the trees have leaves. We have found an old house, the people are very nice and they have allowed me to paint in the empty rooms. Today I started, a still life with a blue teapot, a lemon and a small canoun for charcoal. The walls are all white, the ceilings and the window frames turquoise blue and the floor is tiled. At first they were all standing around me and watched as I was starting to paint, the little boy walked around with his book in his hands and was reading aloud, after awhile it was empty and one heard the voices from the other rooms. The house is very beautiful, especially the unoccupied part with its empty rooms, if possible I will paint more there.
xxxHere in the hospital we also have a very nice room and all the people are very nice. Downstairs on the ground floor is the kitchen and the dining room. Our window looks down to a salt lake and behind it are stretching low hills. A white road leads down the hill into the city, passing an old fortress with a beautiful wooden door. In the Arab quarters are very beautiful houses with columns, old doors and high shuttered windows . Sometimes the streets are covered and there are shops and cafés everywhere. The evenings are the most beautiful, most of the shops are closed and the roads are empty and one looks into the court yards and under the vaults. The European streets are not as nice and I only go there to shop.
xxxTwo days ago we were in a village by the sea, Sidi Bou Said. It is built on a hill. All the houses are whitewashed and the roads rather wide with trees. It was already dark when we got there and we were sitting on a terrace and looked down to the sea. The houses are more beautiful than here in Tunis, but perhaps only because it was already dark. It gets dark early around six oclock, but it is November, one does not think of it.
xxxI am glad that Ursula is feeling better. She has written me in Berlin, however I have not answered her yet. Probably it is quite winterly now in Munich, one can hardly imagine that. Close to here is a garden with orange trees, some of the fruit are still green, one can hardly see them among the leaves, others are already ripe . They are being sold here mostly with the stem and some leaves that looks very nice.
xxxThe other intern here has a little daughter, who was a year old the other day, we were invited, it was also the baptism. It was quite a crowd, about fifty people in a small apartment but it was very nice.
xxxIt is very nice here and now that we have gotten through everything, I am happy that I did not go to Canada.
Christiane Pflug to Regine Faust, Tunis, 2 December 1956
I dont hear from you at all and I hope that you got my first letter, and that you are doing well. Here it is very beautiful, I already know the town a little bit and I can go out by myself, the first few days I didnt dare to. We have a small grey cat, most of the time shes lying on my black and yellow plaid and sleeps, the first few days she was very anxious, but now she purrs when one strokes her. Im painting again. We have found an old Arabic house, which is only half occupied. The people are very kind and they let me paint in the empty rooms. So Im going there every morning, thats when the light is the best, and paint still lifes. There are very beautiful things here, a small teapot, and old copper coffee grinder, and old pewter tea set, many terra cotta things. The lady is very nice with Henna colored hair, like dark copper. She has two small children, a boy and a girl, which are in school during the day. When school is in the afternoon the boy comes with his book to my room, reads and walks up and down and looks at what Im doing.
xxxToday was the first Advent, one doesnt think about it at all, because it is not wintery outside, only yesterday it rained for the whole day and was rather cold. But here we have a heated room and running hot water, that makes it easier.
4 Dec. 1956
Now I have had some mail from you, many thanks for your letter: it is awful, that you have such a lousy job and besides that hay fever. Probably it is because of the upset of the last weeks and Im very sorry. Besides that I find it terrible, that you cant get a refund for the flight. I also thought, that it was done through a credit card, even though you already wrote once that the flight was fully paid, but I didnt realize it at all because I thought it was on credit. I did talk with the agency in Berlin, and they said the money for the fare would in any case be refunded, either the down payment or the whole sum. That really would be awful. If you really dont get it back is it then at least an airplane ticket for you or is tout à fond perdu? One could really hardly imagine that. In Berlin they did assure me that the money would be returned. I hope this will be so. Please write me what happened to it. Here every new day is very beautiful. When I come home in the evening the sky is quite red and the light is reflected by the salt lake and the shore of the lake is slightly foggy. There are very beautiful flowers here, especially the roses are marvelous, much larger and more beautiful than at home. I always do my shopping at the Marché Central, they have to indicate the prices and besides that the vegetables are the freshest and best there. They have some marvelous vegetables here, very tender small peas and nice beans, salads and cauliflower, only the tomatoes arent as nice. I always plan to go shopping only once a week, because its quite far, but most of the time I dont have enough and I do have to go twice. Now I have made a list, and planned my meals more or less for the whole week and perhaps this time it will be enough. I buy the meat in the Souks , it is much cheaper there than at the French butchers and it isnt any worse. But I dont like to buy meat at all because one always has to ask for the price of the kilo beforehand and look at the scales and make ones own calculations and one has to watch ones wallet; on my first excursion they stole my wallet with 2000 frs out of my carrying bag. Michael is now earning 59.000 frs per month and retroactively until March, and therefore we get another payback, as he has been here since August. And as we dont have to pay rent, electricity, gas and the food is cheap, we can manage.
cI will think about the things for the baby and will write you.
My Dear Mammi! LETTER #95 14 V.1957
Today the sterilization pot arrived. Michael picked it up at the post office and I have already put it on the stove. While unpacking I also found the little ducks, the little sheep, like the one Micki had, the socks and the swim suit. Now the child is still lying quietly in her bed, but soon she will also be more interested in things around her and then she will get the toys. Many, many thanks for everything, the pot has such a nice grate to pull the bottles up, before that I sterilized them in one of my pots and always had to pour out the water, and fish the bottles and nipples out with a sterilized knife. I hope that the bottles didnt get lost, because they werent sent any later but because of Ramadan everything is a bit disorganized here and so they might still get here. My first dress is finished, the dark green one with long sleeves, a skirt with a pleated waist buttoned in front and a white collar to be stitched on. I have started the red one,
xxxI wanted to do it without a seam at the waist and that is a little difficult because one doesnt have anybody to try it on. It doesnt fit at all yet. And then all this sewing! My suit is at the Taylor, yesterday was the first fitting. One doesnt see anything yet, but the suits for Michael have turned out very well. Yesterday I saw a movie, "Giant", it is a very beautiful movie, especially the beginning and the three and a half hours were not long at all. Now that it is a little warmer I want to try to move a bit down to the studio, I would bring the laundry up here and to boil things I will have an Arabic alcohol stove especially for the milk bottles, otherwise I dont need much. They do have electric light down there and they really are the most beautiful rooms I know. - In the meantime I will finish painting my Orange Tree Ally, I stayed a few days home for the sewing, and I also had a sort of a flu. But now it has passed and from tomorrow I will get out again, if it doesnt rain. - Im sorry that Lo Harkansson is doing so poorly. I hope that all the people, whom she helped in the past, will look after her. Should I send her something to eat? Rice, tomato paste, some vegetables and tins of condensed milk? Or would she be insulted by that? Could you send me her London address? I would write her in any case. - The cats have grown quite big and are very beautiful. The one is very independent and comes and goes as she likes. Then one hears a meow and the door opens and she comes in; usually in the evening. The other one is shyer and we have to get her up here from time to time, so that they can sleep out and eat enough. Then she lies on the bed and sleeps and purrs. When we go out the cats get locked into the window, we have a wide windowsill and outside a screen. We have put an old blanket down there and they like to lie there. When were here they never go close to the babys bed, but one cant be sure and one feels better oneself. - I havent finished the Kafka, it is a rather thick book, but I read nearly every day in it; it consists of many remarks written down and thoughts, incomplete stories and fragments, but marvelous writing and full of beautiful ideas.
xxxSomething like the Metamorphosis is not part of it. I think he has written that later. His great novels, like Le Chateau, nearly seem less beautiful to me than these fragmentary and unfinished things. I dont dare yet to read Thomas Wolfe in English, Ive forgotten a lot of my English and even reading your book about the prenatal exercises wasnt very fluent. I dont think I have much talent for languages, my French leaves me stranded when I talk to friends or when I feel timid, as in front of the wife of the other intern. Reading is easier, but for that one doesnt have to talk. Michael has bought a lovely wallet for Peter which is even more fitting than the one for Mummi. I will mail it in the next few days. Please excuse that this letter is so disorganized, I dont know why but sometimes things dont work out.
My Dear Mammi! LETTER #98 11 VI. 1957
I have already three letters from you and I still havent answered you and yet I wanted to do it right away. I now always take the bus at noon down to the studio with a child and the bottles and the diapers. I eat before that and I come back in the evening around 8:00 or 8:30 and then I prepare my bottles, soak the diapers and so on. In the morning I clean up and bath her, and I always intend to write a letter on top of it, or to do some more work on my summer dresses, but I never manage to do that and thats why Ive taken a letter down to the studio and I write with a ballpoint pen even though I dont like it at all. This morning I had another long letter from you, I was still sleeping a little after I had fed Esther and changed Esther and I read it on my bed. Many, many thanks, it is marvelous to get so much mail from you, I should also write more frequently and more regularly. And now the questions. The bottles really seem to have been lost, that is really very sleazy, but here everything gets stolen which is not nailed down, even such things where we can hardly imagine it. And thats the reason why they leave the parcels at the post office and one gets a notice and one has to pick them up with identification and they are very correct then. I have witnessed how they make great difficultness when handing out a parcel to a young boy who was supposed to pick it up for his aunt and had no identification.
xxxIt is really awful, Mummis Christmas parcels two years ago didnt arrive either. On the other hand I got the pink night shirts a long time go and I did write you. ("another lost letter!"). The Chinese cotton material which you mentioned awhile ago did not get here and that must be lost too. But please dont send a bathtub or more bottles. We have discovered that we can get a plastic bathtub here and besides I already bought a small light zinc tub for the laundry. The plastic pail wasnt big enough anymore. We can get plastic bottles here, but I use glass bottles for the time being because they last longer with all the boiling. Later she will get plastic bottles, when she can hold them herself, and one doesnt have to boil them so carefully anymore. I have eleven bottles for the time being and I sterilize them in the evening and fill them with boiled water, vitamin drops and powdered milk will be put into them in the morning just before use. She gets 150 grams 6 times daily and thats just 900 grams and the bottles together have 1000 cc. Sometimes she drinks a little more so that it is just enough. Next month we get two new bottles and in two weeks a little sinlac from Nestlé in the milk. She sleeps quite well through but around 5 or 6 shes getting quite energetic, not at 6:30 as the misinformed Nestlé catalogue indicates. Here the mosquito net is really very nice, I always wrap it around the carrying case and the one for me. I tie with ribbons over her head so that it is completely closed. We have trouble with the insects, unfortunately the cats have damaged the screen as they crawled up and down on it to catch flies. And so some of them get into the room and now and then we are using DDT which is quite effective. This is an exceptionally cool June and it isnt much warmer than in Germany, just pleasant. Next March I will probably exhibit here, we have taken our paintings there the other day and we expect the answer on Monday. They probably should take them, because what was hanging there was not very good (without any snobbery) but it is a French gallery and nationality plays a role there too. But in any case I have to paint as much as I can, there has to be enough for an exhibition in Paris. We have bought a new stretcher and I will put it on the ground soon. My orange ally has turned out badly, one of my worst paintings! Im painting in tempera for a change. It is difficult Cézanne writes somewhere, that the other day he was catching fishes by hand, and that that was much easier than painting. Im very happy that Host Lücke has visited you, he had planned it for a long time and now it was possible. More about that next time!
Many many kisses.
Christiane Pflug to Regine Faust, Tunis, 11 Dez 1956
Its evening. Im already in bed, outside it has rained the whole day, and now one hears the wind in the trees. Many, many thanks for your long letter and that you have thought of everything, - I know very well how little time you have and how tired you are in the evening. I only think there have been some misunderstandings, for instance, that you would think, I didnt want to see you anymore and such thoughts because you should have realized that isnt so and you know and I had hoped, that it would always be clear from my letters and otherwise. It is something else about Canada and the only reproach I have for that country is that one most probably couldnt paint there, because it lacks the atmosphere one needs for it, and because there are so few American and Canadian painters and those who have achieved something as artists achieved it only over here. Everybody keeps saying that I wouldnt have to stay over there forever and that is true too. But I think one will only be able to paint in Europe, and because that is important to me, everything else can be explained from there.
xxxAnd now a quick comment regarding "decisions which are standing on weak legs"; I think, if one is really interested and wants everything at once, one has to be twice as systematic in the execution once one has made a decision and has to avoid any distraction, because otherwise one will scatter oneself, but that is only in general terms, on the weekend I will write to you in more detail.
xxxI only wanted to say to you quickly, that Im awfully sorry if you suffer stress because of me and that you have sleepless nights and that just now when you need your rest so much, and please dont think that Im willfully trying to destroy something and throw it away. I have enough difficulties to make decisions and to have a clear idea and because there are many things I want to do, it may be that I sometimes contradict myself. Now something else. Please dont worry about the wardrobe.
xxxI only worried because it was just before Christmas but if youre leaving only in the middle to the end of January I can finish it after Christmas. The green-white one is already cut, and therefore I cant put it aside at all. I do want to cut the white one and do the initial sewing so that you can finish it, because Im learning something when I do that, besides that I would like some cuts. I was only upset when I thought it had to be ready before Christmas. After that there is no problem. Besides that I really would like to help you so please send me a sketch on how you want it. Please dont be unhappy because of me.
Christiane Pflug to Michael Pflug in Foum Tatahouine, Tunis, August 20, 1957
It is morning, outside the sun is shining and white clouds are in the sky. I dreamt about my Mother, she wore the dress about which she wrote recently. I did not like it at all and everything was on a train which left soon. Then I met a girl who was a daughter of a Count and I turned away and said that I did not want to have anything to do with such people. Then she cried and said it was not her fault and then I noticed how nasty I had become and I excused myself and we all talked for a long time . She was blonde in a dark coat. I do not know who it was. Then I was in Paris and I had to leave soon and I thought that I had not been at all once in a church and went to Nôtre Dame. It was dark inside and one saw torn out trees and enormous roots and between them old tombstones and figures whose heads one saw between the roots, also the head of a Madonna which I had seen in a book as a child.
xxxMany thanks for your letter with the two postcards, I like them much more above all the one through the archway and the many roads and palm trees, but I like Linden better than palm trees. I have written to Miss Buetow on Monday after your departure and I have invited her. She should only write me ahead of time when, so that I would be at home. She has not answered yet. I have sent the letter for Paris the same afternoon. The Minister is making it very difficult.
xxxMadame Mistaoui has a white apron with many roses in all colors. Near the Casbah were small, stiff flowers with stiff leaves and a blossom. They are standing in regular distances, it looks like flowers sometimes look in old paintings. There are flowers which are growing in a green thicket and they have blossoms like small roses, white, yellow and red. Sometimes the fountains go, and the people stand leaning on the balustrade and look at the water. The parcel from your Mother has arrived, I will get it today. Yesterday I also had a letter and I am sending it along, if it works out with her teeth she will arrive on the 5th of October. Today or tomorrow I will get the cat and I will ask them to clean everything downstairs. She has become very friendly again, in the evening she stays outside of the apartment and plays in the courtyard with the red one. Then I am arriving and she is greeting me and when I sit down she jumps up on my lap. I am painting again, now it works again and I am glad about it. Every evening I propose myself to sew something, but then I am too tired. Esther also needs more time now to get used to the change in her feedings, but one has to start it once correctly. She is very well. The nicest is when she wakes up in the morning, that is marvelous really. She is sleeping a great deal now, the whole morning, in the afternoon for an hour and in the evening after her bath and also immediately after the last bottle. Many regards, if it is so ugly there come back soon.
Christiane Pflug to Michael Pflug in Foum Tatahouine, Tunis, September 12, 1957
Many thanks for your letter, I am glad you like it there, then I can come there too soon. Esther is well, she laughs and talks the whole day and also sleeps a great deal. The grey cat is again really at home and comes and goes as she likes. She is also not so angry with the others anymore. The small ones are very hungry and eat noodles and mashed potatoes and today some cream of wheat. During the day they sleep and at night they walk through the rooms and sometimes come to me in the bed. The girls have flu since three days, and so I have not done any drawing, it is very difficult and does not work out at all. I am very tired and I will go to bed right after dinner and my eyes are falling closed. Suia talked about a very ill, feverish woman who always asked for her Madonna picture, that they had left at home and all laughed about it. I have a book again, Le sous-sol, about a man who lives lonely and withdrawn, as an official with a very small salary. In the beginning he always holds long conversations and in his thoughts turns to several people whom he doesnt know. Later one notices that they are his old school friends, some of them he is still greeting and once he visits one of them and meets others there. Nobody takes any notice of him and all talk only about their acquaintances and successes. He despises them because they are so stupid and yet he cannot bear it that they dont pay any notice to him, or that they make fun of him. In the end they arrange for a dinner together, and he invites himself even though the other ones greet him no longer. During the dinner he insults them all, but they do not pay any attention to him and he walks back and forth between clock and the door and thinks. Finally they all leave and he followed them and met a girl. I havent gotten any further, it is all sad because he is so embittered. Yesterday I wanted to continue to read but then I fell asleep. I dreamt of a large room for a wedding, in an old hall with high windows and there stood a long table with white plates, outside in front of the window where ivy vines stood and the sun shone into the room. Everywhere were garlands of roses, around the windows, on the chairs and on the table and on the floor were lying roses too. In front of the plate of the bride stood golden toys, a small wagon and old fashioned railroad cars. Then everything was gone suddenly and the whole thing was only a gym, but the sun was still shining into it and it was very white. There was only a single rose garland left, outside one heard the steps of people who had left the room and the bride sat on a wooden bench and said "but it was beautiful that for a moment we had a hall". Then there was a man who should get married and had only eight days to live. His Mother brought him roses and the golden toys and said he should get married and all said so, but the bride said nothing, and when I opened the door at the Mistaouis she stood on top of the stairs in a long white robe and a rose garland hung down. I have also dreamt of you, you said I should come soon now.
xxxThe grey cat has laid down on Esthers bed, and has slept there a little with a towel and she went out immediately. This morning she came back, and now she sits outside in the sun near the bushes. She has lost weight and doesnt look as big anymore. With my painting I am not getting along at all, it is very difficult. When I am thinking about it I see it in front of me and how it should turn out and when sitting in front of it it doesnt work at all. I have looked at the Goya several times, there are so many beautiful paintings in it, that one can only think of it. The Priest has brought me a German illustrated paper, that he had bought for a relative, but for him it was too difficult. There is a picture in it of an empty factory hall, the floor is under water, that looks very beautiful. In April there was a comet, so bright as there wasnt one for decades, and we have never seen it. Many thanks for the postcard, I thought of the destroyed Jerusalem with the caving in of walls and the draped figures.
Christiane Pflug to Michael Pflug in Foum Tatahouine, Tunis, December 13, 1957
Today is Saturday, the weather is warm and again so beautiful, Esther is walked between the flowering bushes, and sometimes one sees under the leaves of the lily beds the head of the grey cat. The painting is very difficult, I am always sitting in front of it and every day I carry it a little further, sometimes I look at the Picasso book, especially the drawings, the Goya I have at home to look at. Sometimes the red cat comes, and sits with me under the blanket, sometimes it sleeps for the whole afternoon, until I wake it up to go home. Tomorrow is Sunday again, I am still thinking of the garden in Carthage, which had many flowers, many tombstones and the mosaics, the trees and between them the Mediterranean. It is always so lonely there, only a few old men at the gate and sometimes back on the beach. I like the Arloing too, with the smell of the orange blossoms and the many colored dresses of the children between the bushes and trees. I still have the tiny Fatma Hand from Tatahouine, the piece of quartz and bottles of paint medium. Now you will come soon. Sunday is always the best.
xxxMany regards, I will go down again now.
Luise Pflug to Regine Faust, Munich, 6.1.58
... You probably cannot see from her letters how much Christiane has remained committed to her painting: In my view she has made great progress, and I admire, with what steadfastness and dedication she is working, she is still so young and I would find it quite natural if she took some time off on occasion - but I have never been driven by creativity, after all creativity drives those who are gifted in a very different fashion, and on the other hand at moments of success it gives them a sense of happiness which makes all the sacrifices worthwhile.
xxxOne really can say that there is something extraordinary in their struggle and with trust and occasional support one should be on their side if the distance was not so great, which because of the difference of the environment consumes so much of their strength that it could bring on alienation. Both of them do not make any fuss about it that as middle Europeans they live in a very ascetic environment, but one says that ascesis makes one strong and frees one. And the gain to have to adapt to such an exotic country cannot be estimated highly enough for such people.
xxxI often found them both very happy; we did many beautiful and interesting things in the short time together. Michael made every effort to make things work - the friendly, happy Esther is also a source of constant joy, the care for such a small child does not take so much time. I hope little Delila, as young as she is will develop into a real pearl, so that Christiane can really sit quietly at her easel, if she has to, and that the child is not deprived soon, when it will need more attention. ...
Christiane Pflug to Michael Pflug in Foum Tatahouine, Tunis, August 25, 1958
Many thanks for your nice letter with the Indian postcard, the cypresses and the sky are so beautiful. The women are wearing shoes like the Mother-of-Pearl inlaid wedding shoes in the antique shop. The postcard is standing on the Mother-of-Pearl mirror, they look very sumptuous together. I had a beautiful dream, last night, it was a cool, beautiful evening in a city, the sky was bright already and a cool wind blew. I was on a large square, two churches were standing there, one of them very large, the other one smaller with a Gothic tower but a very low nave with a flat roof. Four, not very high, white columns were to stand on its roof with large capitals and on them a roof, but all had fallen down and was lying in ruin and in many stones on the square. I put the four columns in their place, it was very easy, only the roof was too heavy, then you came and lifted the roof up and put it on the columns and the church was whole again. Then it was dark already and the moon was standing in the sky. Then Ursula started to cry and I woke up. It is very hot here, one can hardly write. Miezchen has burned her arm a little with hot water, it is already covered by skin. In the hospital they dress it with Tuille gras. It does not stick. Otherwise she is well, in the afternoon she walks around in the room and talks, she is eating better, sometimes she gets tomato sauce with mashed potatoes, she likes to eat that very much. The Mistaouis are always very kind, Madame Mistaoui borrowed some money yesterday, so I can hardly get through to Thursday - there is only one signed mandat here today. I asked them to give me the second one and I will send it to you. The Ouibis said we should give the others to the Receiver and ask him to send it.
I cant get any leather here for the pullover, everywhere one can only get very thick leather but it wouldnt be thin enough. I have repaired the thin spots with black wool and stitched within the mesh, one can hardly see it, should I send it like that? You will get sardines with it, the green ones cost only 54 frs. I am packing, I am not doing too well, there is so much where one doesnt know what to do with it, and I have to hurry up.
Christiane Pflug to Michael Pflug, Munich, 9.IX.1958
And so I have left Tunis yesterday, I hardly made it, but then I did get away. The flight was very beautiful at first, the plane flew quite low over Tunis, the suburbs, the punic harbor, it has the shape of a horseshoe, one doesnt see that otherwise. One saw distinctly the little Marabout and the house of Madame Duchêne, only the solitary column close to the sea one could not see, and then on over Carthago, the beautiful garden and Sidi Bou Said, Le Jardin LErlanger and the houses on the hill, otherwise the country is brown, one sees the square buildings with the courtyards. The sea close to the seashore is light green, one clearly sees the shallow areas, where it is deep it is dark and turquoise green. One saw the small crests of the waves and golden and pink towers of clouds. In the middle of the sea there was a small triangular rocky island, uninhabited with a steep rocky shore and a narrow beach, a bright stripe on the other side. In the rocks there was a horseshoe formed opening, like a large gate, that leads into the sea, perhaps an underground palace, of which nobody knows.
xxxAbove Italy the plane was very high, one saw the brown, flat land, cultivated in stripes and later even like a blanket the forest, and little houses with red roofs. Esther slept until we arrived in Rome, then we changed, the people were very friendly and carried everything. Evening came quickly and one saw large dark clouds and above it the clear evening sky and the afterglow and stars. The children were very tired then and cried for the last hour. In Munich it was cold and rainy. Brigitte picked me up with an acquaintance who had a car. Miezchen ate, had her bath and slept well. I slept with the children in Mothers room, it is cool, Esther wears her winter nightgowns, the thick woollen blanket, Ursula a jacket and blanket during the day. Now both are sleeping. Mistaouis were very kind. Madame had a cold and was ill, the man came to the Port de France and the Rheinländer with his friend and drove me to the airport. I had 8 kilogram more luggage than allowed, but they did not make me pay. In the morning the money from Robert arrived, I sent it on to you by telegram. The money from you had not arrived, I told the boys they should, when it arrives, send it immediately onto you. Here I have prepared everything for the residents registration, it will be done this afternoon and tomorrow to the consulate. It is curious, to live again in a quite different city. I always want to ask what are these strange houses and what strange people. I am always thinking of the beautiful house. The boys had whitewashed the floor so beautifully, and the board under the arch. I have cleaned out everything and left only the rider on the red pottery horse there, that looked so beautiful that I looked again and again. Ursulas basket was so empty and Miezchens carriage, and the postcards and the roses from the walls, all the books are in the small room, the small paintings are hanging there with the wooden frames and your window, painted on canvas. Here are many paintings from you, the still life from long ago, the Church of Vezelay and a river landscape, the house and the trees with the dark blue sky. Flags are also here . In the airplane to Rome there was one too then the man left the plane and it was gone. When the airplane went over the coastline and I saw the dark green trees of the garden in Carthago and the hill of Sidi Bou Said, so that I always wanted to say stop here, we will stay. But it is difficult too, winter would come, we would need a table for the primuses and two petroleum stoves, the windows would have to be made tight and with the rinsing of the laundry it would not be easy. The boys can eat with the Mistaouis until their money arrives. I hope you will get the money soon so that you can manage. The cats are no longer there.
Michael Pflug to Regine Faust, Paris, 18.10.58
... Viera de Silva and her husband have shown Christianes paintings to several galleries, however, only important galleries, all of them found the paintings very beautiful and said she was very talented etc., but she was still too young, one would have to wait. Of course it was unlikely to start with, that somebody should be successful at age 22, but otherwise I find it uncomprehensible that these people do not see the difference between Christianes work and the sorry trash which one finds here in the galleries. But it is rarely any different. ...
Michael Pflug to Regine Faust, Paris, 25.10.58
...I feel sorry for any time that she does not spend painting. And my big wordsare not far behind reality, because in Tunis she had just set up a still life again and wanted to start again to paint, when she had to go to Munich. Of course she could not paint there and she will not be able to paint in Canada after all, I only wish for nothing more, and all my future is planned around it, that that will only be temporary. At the time when Christiane came to Paris from Wuppertal or Berlin I washed her brushes, cleaned her palette, made her to eat and I did everything, so that she could spend all her time painting. If Christiane has changed in any way then it is because of these things more than because of any critique by me. I have said more than once, what you are saying about your husband, that I am not looking for a perfect housewife and I didnt...
Luise Pflug to Christiane Pflug, Munich, December 1958
My Dear Christiane as well as Miezchen and Ulla,
xxxWe are thinking so often of you and we often talk about you. Michael is now here and brings life into the house. I found him under a great deal of strain and therefore I was relieved that he wants to work here for a while and that we can look after him a little. I only arrived on the 12th and of course things became hectic, we only have rather slow help on two mornings - Brigitte had to go to Stein. In short I did not get to write. Now, you will understand it. I will soon catch up. I am wishing you with all my heart some quiet, happy, festive days with your family; the children will be happy at any rate and you will enjoy that too. How good that now the time when you will be together again is getting within reach. The warmest greetings from us. Mother
Michael Pflug to his family in Munich, Tunis, January 1959
Shortly before Christmas with the increasing activities my aversion also increased. I dreamt during a restless night at the hospital, that mother said to me clearly " ... and I want to put a small bouquet of flowers on father's grave...". As I woke up I thought how shortly before I left Wuppertal around 1956, we were sitting in the rain on a bench overlooking the town, next to the grave. Now I often feel as if life is passing even faster. Things which seemed so out of reach in the past are now as matter of fact. Only one can not enjoy them. Whatever effect one may have on others, as in my work, always remains something incomplete and often unresolved. We have to let go of our paintings. Perhaps one day a few people will see through them how we lived, but they will not be able to see in these paintings our difficulties, the always recurring dissatisfaction compared with which the everyday difficulties of life are trivial.
Christiane Pflug to Michael Pflug, Munich, 24 January 1959
Today was Sunday, I took a walk with Miezchen, and in the evening I have sewn a sleeping bag for her, one morning the pink one was torn up from the top to the bottom and she was quite surprised, it had been made out of an old nightgown of Mother and was already a little thin. Now Frau Leitner will be happy to have a new cleaning rag. Ursel was here with Fides, Uncle Max has broken his leg and is in the Hospital. Perhaps you will write him too. I have written Maja , she had sent a little basket for Miezchen with colorful pillows and a tiny doll for Christmas and the golden star is beautiful too. Miezchen is now eating so well, that it makes one happy, tonight a whole bowl of Cream of Wheat and afterwards a cup of grated apple with orange juice. Ursula is eating better too, she likes spinach especially, and she is well. I have given two Indian postcards to Ursel, which I had meant for you, but she has to work so hard for her examination and is so lonely. I have read beautiful short stories by Camus, (L'exil et le royaume). The best one is about a laborer who works at a cooper's , it is getting more and more difficult and the boss does not want to increase his salary, then they will not talk with him at all anymore (The silent ones). It has gotten colder again, the Consulate has not returned my passport, I hope they haven't come up with anything else. Ursula's vaccination scars are hardly visible anymore, I hope it will take. On the 14th of February is Tobias' birthday, he is now in the playpen, he likes that well. Only he always wants to stay for too long and that gets him tired and then he is unhappy until one sits him down. Mother sometimes talks about Dr. Zivago, I should read it before I leave, she likes it very much. It is late already, now I will go to bed, last night I dreamt that I was going at night up the Inn Valley, up to Engadin. I left in the evening. I passed the old grey castle of Muenichau (close to Kitzbühel). It was lying in the evening sun between the wooded hills. Then I went along the river. It then looked like the Seine in Neuilly, in the center was a small island, on which grey guinea fowls were living, then they flew up. Along the river bank were beautiful old houses, as in Paris. Late in the night I arrived in the Engadin. In the meantime winter had come and I saw the white rocky mountains shine in the moonlight. They are called Siboretta group and I thought that was a beautiful name. Then I was in Kitzbühel in my little room under the roof. It was wood paneled and had an oval window, and I looked down to the street andthere I saw you, and then I heard steps on the wooden stairs and you came up and I was so happy, then I woke up.
Michael Pflug to Christiane Pflug, Tunis, February 21, 1959
Your long letter arrived today, I have lost one which I started, there is so much work with my thesis. Ive finished the first observations and returned them to Valensi, who gave me the second package. There was so much work in surgery and every night I was exhausted, the parcel for you isnt finished either. Bebelle and Cittanova wanted to read the Pasternak book, and so Ill mail it later. But instead I bought the nylon shirts and will send them. There was only size 38, I hope you can wear them, otherwise youll have to alter them. You have so few clothes, I hope youll have time to alter the suits, then at least you have something. Do you think that I could buy shoes for you, or is that too risky? Answer me. I wont be able to send money. Tonight I dreamt of you, which is rare. You were painting a still life, it was scratched off with a spatula and the objects were only visible as vague outlines, there were long streaks of color on the primed ground, it looked very nice. There was also the lock at Stalingrad , with beautiful colors, such as would have been good, but with the same composition. The night before I had dreamt about being in a huge burnt out house, with an empty stairway, I heard the cat crying for me upstairs and went back to get her. We watched a Yugoslavian fold dance performance in the evening. Some of it was very beautiful, sometimes it looked like on a village street, they had all the different costumes, from the Austrian border to the Muslim regions, with turbans and flowers printed on the fabrics of the womens pants. And the beautiful, sad Slavic songs with all of it. Afterwards we went backstage, all the costumes were real, the linen already grey from age and the embroideries faded. Even the shoes and sandals were of tough old leather. The women were ugly and overly made up and the men had wooden, strong faces. They were all poorly dressed, weve gotten used to different surroundings.
xxxYesterday I saw: "the Cat on the hot Tinroof" by Tennessee Williams, theres a lot about America in it, but he is not as good as Faulkner, hes very clever, "mais il nya pas un grand souffle". Has the parcel arrived? You dont mention anything... of your grandmother having sent you the boots, you must be needing them now.
xxxI am a little worried about your foot , because if you have a slightly broken ankle it will hurt forever if you run around on it now. That is why I should come as quickly as possible. But it will not be until the end of December. Write to me, and make a drawing too, if it hurts more on the inside or outside and if it hurts a lot when you press on it then it probably was broken. Was it swollen in the first days?
xxxDid you take any paintings? And which ones? I hope youve written to Mother, otherwise you have to do it right away.
xxxYour Mother writes that she once mailed something to me, which she shouldnt have. Im only mentioning it because I havent received anything and I dont want her to think that Im ignoring it. I dont want you to send anything to me. Not for my birthday and so on. You know that I dont lack anything here. Of course I will be glad when you can go out again and do some drawings; once you go outside you surely will find something which you will like to draw, although its not Aix en Provence. Is Ursula already crawling? If not itll start soon. I can imagine the children are feeling good. It surely influenced them that you were so depressed in Munich, and then it was very crowded and you were always rushed. Is it better now, in terms of housework? Do you have some more time to rest? The sun is shining and the grey cat has lied down in the sun spot on the blanket. The white one has lost all fear and always runs around me, upstairs, when Im eating; if she hasnt been around for a while she suddenly runs into the room, meowing when I open the door. Its Saturday and there is no work for me to do. Ive already changed clothes. Once there has to be a break, there was no time for any thoughts these past weeks. Wont your write about Tobiass birthday? You had mentioned it before but I cant find the date, although I still have all your letters.
xxxMany greetings to you and everybody. I am glad that you are feeling well, your Mother realized how necessary it was for you. But you and I have already shared two beautiful years and now we have to go through a more prosaic time.