Oskar Schlemmer German, 1888-1943 ROTE LEIBER, 1929
ROTE LEIBER, 1929
Signed Osk Schlemmer, inscribed as titled and stamped O.S. on the reverse; stamped O.S. on the stretcher
Oil on canvas
35 3/8 x 23 5/8 inches (89.9 x 59.4 cm)
With Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin
With J.B. Neumann, New York
Private Collections, Long Island, New York
Darmstadt, Germany, The Beautiful Body in Modern Art, 1929, p.63, no.131
Weisbaden, Germany, Thirty German Artists, 1930, p.12, no.112
Berlin, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Oskar Schlemmer und Marg Moll, 1931, no.2
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, German Painting and Sculpture, 1931, p.34, no.81 (dated 1928 and as lent by Galerie Flechtheim, Berlin)
Hans Hildebrandt, Oskar Schlemmer Werkverzeichnis, Prestel-Verlag, Munich, 1952, no.162
Karin von Maur, Oskar Schlemmer Oeuvrekatalog der Gemalde, Aquarelle, Pastelle und Plastiken, Munich, 1979, p.85, no.G195, illustrated
The painter, sculptor, and stage designer Oskar Schlemmer was born in Stuttgart in 1888, where he studied art at the Kunstgewerbeschule and the Kunstakademie. After spending a year in Berlin he returned to his native city in 1912 and studied with Adolf H"lzel (1853-1934), who interested him in avant-garde art. Schlemmer served in the German infantry during World War I and was wounded several times. After the war he went back to Stuttgart and became active in modernist art circles. At the invitation of the architect Walter Gropius (1888-1969), Schlemmer began to teach at the Weimar Bauhaus in 1920 and made preparations for his Triadisches Ballett (first performed in 1922). He moved to the Dessau Bauhaus late in 1925 and taught theater and dance.
Rote Leiber dates from the time after Schlemmer left the Bauhaus in 1927 and accepted an appointment at the Staatliche Akademie in Breslau. He abandoned his earlier abstract style and began to paint semi-cubist figurative subjects that reflect his interest in dance. Schlemmer's paintings of this period typically represent streamlined, cylindrical figures rigidly set in frontal, rear, and profile positions. In early compositions such as Rote Leiber the static, mechanistic figures are situated in ambiguous surroundings that are devoid of the architectural elements that later manifest themselves in Group of Fourteen Figures in Imaginary Architecture (1930, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne) and the famous Bauhaus Stairway (1932, The Museum of Modern Art, New York). The artist painted the latter work, which is often interpreted as exemplifying the Bauhaus ideal of a synthesis between architecture and the figural arts, after learning that the Nazis had closed the Dessau Bauhaus.
For the last decade of his life Schlemmer had to contend with the fact that the Nazis considered his art degenerate; he lost his position in Breslau, his paintings were included in the notorious Nazi-sponsored Entartete Kunst (degenerate art) exhibitions, and he was forbidden to sell his paintings in Germany. He worked for a Stuttgart firm beginning in early 1938 that produced murals and camouflage, and relocated to Wuppertal in 1940 to do experimental work at a varnish factory. Schlemmer died in Baden-Baden in 1943.
Few minor paint flakes along the bottom edge. Slight buckling at the upper right. Minor scattered cracquelure. 1'' x 1/4'' L-shaped tear with 3/4'' crack above the tear. Tiny specks of undetermined white substance (probably house paint) scattered throughout, most prominent at the lower left corner with small area of drips (visible in reproduction). Minor surface dirt. Not examined out of the frame. There is a strip of red tape, approximately fourteen inches x 1/2 inch along the bottom of the painting. Most of the tape is not on the surface of the painting, however it is on the underside of the painting, along the overlap. Approximately 1/5 inch of the tape extends to the face of the painting (horizontally along the bottom center).
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