Daniel E. Kelm and Barbara Fahrner
Kelm: American, 1951–; Fahrner: German, 1940–

Pencil and ink on paper with stainless steel wire, aluminum tubing, thread, and wire edge binding. Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. Photographs by Daniel E. Kelm.

The Philosopher’s Stone

Kelm and German artist Barbara Fahrner first met in 1992 while working on the publication Nods for Granary Books. Recognizing their shared interest in alchemy, Kelm and Fahrner collaborated on a unique book on the subject of the Philosopher’s Stone, a key component of the alchemist’s art. On a material level, the Philosopher’s Stone was the substance that effected the transformation of base metals into silver and gold, yet it also became a metaphor for the potential of the human mind and soul to evolve over time from quotidian concerns to a higher level. The idea that physical materials and processes have spiritual dimensions that can be explored alongside their scientific properties is a key subtext of Kelm’s work.

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