ARTISTS / Modern art
Willi Baumeister

Two worsted figures
© Willi Baumeister / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Willi Baumeister

Zwei Kammzugfiguren / Two worsted figures, 1944

Oil with synthetic resin and putty on hardboard
42,5 × 61 cm

signed upper right: Baumeister

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Provenance: Collection Heinz Rasch, Wuppertal
Literature: Exhibition cat. Willi Baumeister. Works from 1914 to 1955, Galerie Schlichtenmaier Stuttgart 2000, cat. no. 20, ill. p. 47; exhibition cat. Willi Baumeister. Entdeckung neuer Bildwelten, Galerie Schlichtenmaier, Grafenau/Stuttgart 2008, p. 42, ill. p. 43; Willi Baumeister. Zimmer- und Wandgeister, in: Jahrbuch der Hamburger Kunstsammlungen. Vol. 12, ed. by Heinz Spielmann, Hamburg 1967, p. 163 with ill.; Ausst.Kat. Schlemmer-Baumeister - Krause, Wuppertal 1937-1944, Von der Heydt-Museum Wupper-tal 1979, 23, ill. p. 67; exhibition cat. Willi Baumeister, Entdeckung neuer Bildwelten, Galerie Schlichtenmaier Grafenau / Stuttgart, Grafenau/Stuttgart, 2008, p. 42, fig. p. 43; Will Grohmann, Willi Baumeister. Leben und Werk, Cologne 1963, No. 993

The "Kammzugfiguren" mark a new beginning in Willi Baumeister's oeuvre that precedes the end of the war and the new political beginning, and which occupied him again and again until his death. They are closely related to the late series of "Sun Figures" created at the same time, whose cheerful, bright colorfulness was particularly surprising in 1944. The work "Zwei Kammzugfiguren" created in this year is considered the first version of the theme, which was then taken up again beginning in 1946. With these works Baumeister found a technique that opened up new possibilities for his pictorial intentions and led to a strengthening of the compositional approach. Through the combing and the resulting grooves and ridges, Baumeister transfers the experience gained from drawing with frottage into a relief structure in his 1944 work in oil with synthetic resin and putty. By accentuating the ridges with paint, the bright grooves shine. The unifying effect of the steel comb - which Baumeister had still kept from his apprentice days - joins individual surfaces into a homogeneous whole, despite different colors, shapes, and accentuations of movement, and thus dynamizes the composition. Painterly shading at the edges of the forms lends the picture an additional spatiality and the color a pronounced materiality. Like a collage, they are set off against the background of the picture, in front of which they seem to stand illuminated. In this painting, linear scaffolding joins the composition to form two moving figurations - in the one on the right, one could even recognize a horse and rider with some imagination. Despite the figurative assignment, the decipherment of the comb-work poses riddles, which was certainly intentional, since Baumeister wrote in 1943/44 on his opus on "The Unknown in Art". However, he did not want to leave the technically original possibilities to chance alone: "It is a wrong path to conjure up chance and attach meaning to it."
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