ARTISTS / Modern art
Oskar Schlemmer

Three figure series
© Oskar Schlemmer / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Oskar Schlemmer

Drei Figurenreihen / Three figure series, 1934

Ink, pen, colored pencils on oil paper
40 × 40 cm


Provenance: Tut Schlemmer; private collection Berlin; private collection South Baden (taken over by succession); private collection Stuttgart
Confirmation of authenticity by Prof. Dr. Karin von Maur
Literature: Wulf Herzogenrath, Oskar Schlemmer - Die Wandgestaltung der neuen Architektur, Munich 1973, no. 17, pp. 229-230; cf. Oskar Schlemmer. Visions of a New World, Ina Conzen, Stuttgart 2014, p. 188 (Mosik design).

The drawing is one of the designs that Oskar Schlemmer submitted for a competition for a mosaic frieze in the Congress Hall of the Deutsches Museum (Munich). This work with "Three Rows of Figures" from 1934 is more than just a sketch. Compared to other drawings of the early 1930s, it is executed with a meticulous consistency that demonstrates its independence. The sheet was created after Schlemmer's Bauhaus period - and after the sale of his most famous painting, the "Bauhaus Staircase" (1932) to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1933, as a kind of homage to the final closure of the school. After the National Socialists seized power, Schlemmer initially withdrew, apparently also unsettled by the new propagation of a "German" style - especially since at the end of 1933 he viewed the estate of his deceased friend Otto Meyer-Amden in Switzerland, to whom he dedicated several commemorative speeches, and also met Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Davos. This could hardly fit in with the picture that presented itself to him in his own country. Thus, hardly any works are known from 1934 - in the competition Schlemmer was defeated by the line-loyal painter Hermann Kaspar. All the more vehemently - albeit secretly - he took a stand with this figurative drawing: the new man, as he imagined him, was to become representable in the environment of the Hölzel circle with Meyer-Amden, Baumeister, and Schlemmer, and ideally led directly to the Bauhaus, of course far removed from the National Socialists' image of man. Schlemmer's statement of 1934 combines a traditional, pre-Rembrandt view of group portraits with the abstracted-moving series of three-quarter figures that embody modernism.
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