ARTISTS / Modern art
Willi Baumeister

Scherzo (Giant Farewell I)
© Willi Baumeister / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Willi Baumeister

Scherzo (Riesen Abschied I) / Scherzo (Giant Farewell I), 1948

Oil, synthetic resin, putty, partly scratched, on cardboard
46 × 54 cm

signed and dated upper right: Baumeister 7.48; dated and titled on the reverse: Scerzo 7.48
(BAUMEW/M 165)

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Provenance: Else Bitter Collection, Bielefeld; Private Collection, Rhineland
Literature: Peter Beye / Felicitas Baumeister. Willi Baumeister. Vol. II, catalog raisonné of the paintings, Ostfildern 2002, No. 1320, ill. p. 518; Will Grohmann. Willi Baumeister. Leben und Werk, Cologne, 1963, no. 691 with ill.

In his monograph published in 1963 Will Grohmann assigned the Baumeister painting "Scherzo" despite the title inspired by music to the work group "Urzeitgestalten" (created from 1946 to 1949), to which the "Giants" also belong. The motivic form invention developed for it is quoted pictorially from a previously painted work and reproduced in this 1948 painting in a reduced form in the middle of the upper half of the picture - as a picture within a picture. The compositional scheme is dominated by partially crossing lines, underpinned by accentuated islands of color set in yellow, orange, light violet, and green, which liven up the picture structure. The treatment of the surface with putty, typical of Baumeister's painting technique, also comes to bear here in the relief-like modeling in an extremely haptic manner. He furrows the lower area with "combing," a technique that he let appear repeatedly in his paintings between 1944 and 1955. This experimental procedure allows for an abstracted spatiality, abandoning any representational reference points. In Baumeister's post-war period, the life-affirming attitude is indeed characteristic of his work and can be generally observed, but this painting possesses an even more intensely cheerful mood.
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