Traditional Oblique Values

The first 3 editions

Editions 1-3

There were three editions of the Oblique Strategies produced in limited edition and made available for sale.

  • Edition 1 (1975) was a signed and numbered edition of 500
  • Edition 2 (1978), an edition of unknown size (500 or 1000 probably)
  • Edition 3 (1979), also an edition of unknown size.

It appears that at least some of the first edition decks of the Oblique Strategies were made available through import mail-order companies (although my informant ( Thanks, Rick) doesn't remember who. I'm betting that it was Jem, given the dates) in addition to whatever direct sales there may have been. The later editions were offered for sale through Opal. The final announcement of the availability of the Oblique Strategies concerns the final remaining copies of the third edition, and appears in issue number 9 of "Opal Information", dated June 1988. The price for the third edition deck at that time was:

£16.50 (UK, Eire)
£17.OO (Europe)
£18.00 (N. and S. America, Africa)
£18.40 (Australia and Japan)

Each of the three versions of the Oblique Strategies decks varies slightly, as suggested by the introductory blurb which comes with the deck.

And that is the case - each subsequent version of the deck added cards, dropped some, and reworded or edited existing Strategies.

In the recently published diary "A Year With Swollen Appendices," [Faber and Faber, 1996], Brian describes the Oblique Strategies as follows:

"...The original box, which we published in 1975, contained 113 cards, but since they some have been omitted and new ones have been added.

Peter Schmidt died in early 1980, and since then I've been the curator of the Oblique Strategies. They have been published three times in English and also in French and Japanese. They have also been produced as a floppy disc. No two releases are exactly identical - cards come and go."

The untimely death of Peter Schmidt while on holiday in Spain in 1980 meant that no later versions of the Oblique Strategies could be made as a collaborative activity between Eno and his friend and teacher. And, with the exception of a privately commissioned and produced fourth edition (which was never offered for sale), no further editions of the deck have been produced. At present, there are no plans to produce another version of the deck (with the possible exception of rumours of a Japanese language edition which may appear someday) for sale. For more on your possible quest to acquire a copy of the Oblique Strategies, click here.

The First Three Editions - a Text Listing

One of the novel features of this site is Oblique Stratigraphy - your cyberopportunity to traverse a kind of stratigraphic representation of the four editions of the Oblique Strategies and discover for yourself the play of addition, omission and alteration over the course of time. However, some of you may be primarily interested in the contents of each of the Oblique Strategy decks as text. This page helpfully provides you with the following listings:

Although the privately commissioned fourth edition is described elsewhere, I am including a text listing of it as well.

An Homage to the Missing Collaborator

Eno offered the following appreciation of his friend Peter Schmidt:

Looking back now at Peter Schmidt's work, I find myself thinking "This looks very contemporary" and "How did he cover this much territory this quickly?" And, inevitably, I ask "Why didn't anyone really notice?"

Well, I know that the 'neglected genius' is a mythical character. It's very unusual for real talent to be completely ignored. Peter was a real talent, and he was not completely ignored. Instead, he was regarded as something of an interesting curiosity, even a gifted eccentric, but certainly somebody at the margins of culture rather than at its centre. However, even in the few years since his death, there has been a major shift of values in the painting world. One of the results of this has been, in my opinion, to relocate Peter's work: it now looks very prophetic.

Perhaps this reassessment wouldn't have made much difference to Peter anyway. For someone who watched many conspicuously lesser talents rise to positions of respect and influence, he was remarkably free of envy. His work was very much a personal inquiry, a continuous questioning of deeper and deeper assumptions, a delight in finding himself in new territory without answers, and thus innocent. We are always innocent, unless, from laziness or for convenience, we decide to overlook the novelty of the moment, this particular now. It seemed to me that Peter was more capable than anybody else I have ever known of following that understanding through in his actions. He was always alert to those little byways of thought that might open out onto whole new vistas,and he followed them with a quiet kind of courage and with the very minimum

He wrote to me once, "In a roomful of shouting people, the one who whispers becomes interesting." By the mid to late seventies, voices were being raised. The streamlining of the art-world's selling machinery and the general Schnabelization of artistic behaviour was in full cry. Paintings and artistic egos were growing by the acre, and the business of marketing them had crossed over into real estate.

Peter seemed to pay very little attention to this cacophony. His work was changing too, becoming smaller, crisper, more alive. And as everyone else seemed to be switching back to oils and canvas (the guarantee of "real art.'), Peter became fascinated by watercolours and paper (a certain sign of dilettantism). In the short term, such an unfashionable decision firmly located Peter among the Sunday painters. From today's perspective, that assessment seems about 180 degrees off: his work is full of seeds, any one of which could form the basis of a healthy artistic career (and many of which probably have).

As with many good artists, one's admiration for Peter's work increases with familiarity. To follow the threads that are woven through his work, to watch the way that they cross and mesh with new threads and with older ones picked up again is to see a graceful and brilliant dance in motion. That this same pace and brilliance characterized his everyday life came, at first, as something of a surprise. He never raised his voice.

-Brian Eno, May 1987 (printed in "Opal Information #5)

Edition 4
Other editons
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Editions 1-3
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Editions 1-3  
Obl ique Strategies © 1975, 1978, and 1979 Brian Eno/Peter Schmidt
This web page © 1997 Gregory Taylor