Conrad Felixmüller (1897-1977)
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Conrad Felixmüller (1897-1977)

Kinderfastnachtstreiben

Details
Conrad Felixmüller (1897-1977)
Kinderfastnachtstreiben
signed and dated 'C.Felixmüller 1926 Februar' (upper left); signed, dated and numbered 'Conrad Felixmüller 1926 WN-365' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
63 x 39 7/8 in. (160.6 x 100.8 cm.)
Painted in February 1926
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1973.
Literature
Reclams Universum, vol. 19, 1927 (illustrated n.p.).
Die Kunst, no. 31, 1930 (illustrated p. 303).
D. Gleisberg, Conrad Felixmüller, Leben und Werk, Dresden, 1982 (illustrated pl. 121).
H. Spielmann (ed.), Conrad Felixmüller, Monographie und Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde, Cologne, 1996, no. 365 (illustrated p. 253).
Exhibited
Dresden, Stadt, Internationale Kunstausstellung zur Gartenbauausstellung und Jahresschau Deutscher Arbeit, 1926, no. 685 (illustrated n.p.; titled 'Kinderfastnacht').
Braunschweig, Haus der Gesellschaft der Freunde Junger Kunst, Conrad Felixmüller, 1927, no. 2 (titled 'Kinderkarneval').
Essen, Kunsthallen Hansahaus, Conrad Felixmüller, Sonderausstellung, 1927, no. 13 (titled 'Kinderkarneval').
Darmstadt, Neue Hessische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für bildende Kunst, Städtisches Ausstellungsgebäude Mathildenhöhe, Neue Kunst, Berlin, Darmstadt, Munchen, 1927, no. 23 (titled 'Kinderkarneval').
Berlin, Landesausstellungsgelände am Lehrter Bahnhof, Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung, 1928, no. 247 (titled 'Kinderkarneval').
Berlin, Galerie Fritz Gurlitt, Conrad Felixmüller, Sonderausstellung, 1929, n.n. (titled 'Kindermasken'); this exhibition later travelled to Dresden, Stettin, Prague and Munich.
Halle, Moritzburg, Conrad Felixmüller, Gemälde und Graphik, 1949, no. 3 (titled 'Kinderfastnacht').
Berlin, (Ehemalige) Nationalgalerie, Conrad Felixmüller, Malerei von 1913-1973, 1973, no. 12 (illustrated n.p.; titled 'Kinderfastnacht').
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Albertinum, Conrad Felixmüller, Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, 1975, no. 22 (illustrated p. 10; titled 'Kinderfastnacht'); this exhibition later travelled to Rostock, Kunsthalle and Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Ost), Nationalerie, Kupferstichkabinett, Sammlung der Zeichnungen.
Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, Conrad Felixmüller 1897-1977, 1978, no. 96 (titled 'Kinderfastnacht'); this exhibition later travelled to Wiesbaden, Nassauischer Kunstverein and Saarbrücken, Saarland Museum. Hamburg, Interversa, Conrad Felixmüller 1897-1977, 1981, no. 19 (illustrated p. 9); this exhibition later travelled to Bayreuth and Moers.
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Giovanna Bertazzoni
Giovanna Bertazzoni

Lot Essay

Born in Dresden in 1897, Felixmüller was brought up in a working-class environment, his father being a local factory blacksmith. After studying at the Königliche Kunstakademie in Dresden in 1913, Felixmüller revealed himself to be not only a precociously talented painter but also adept at the techniques of graphic art. During the First World War Felixmüller became increasingly involved with literary and political movements, working closely with Herwarth Walden and his Galerie Der Sturm from 1915 and later with Franz Pfemfert on the left-wing journal Die Aktion. In 1919, the same year that he joined the Communist Party, Felixmüller inaugurated the Dresden New Secession Group, which also included Otto Dix, Lasar Segal, Peter Bockstiegel and Christoph Voll.

At the end of the war in 1918 Felixmüller married Londa, Baroness von Berg, and their first child, Luca was born. These two events engendered a significant change of mood in Felixmüller's paintings: he abandoned the political and social criticisms of the late teens and early 1920s and began to indulge himself almost exclusively in depictions of the happy, tranquil life he shared with his family, his favourite models being his wife Londa and his two sons Titus and Luca. Later, during the years of the Third Reich Felixmüller eschewed politics but this change of direction did not spare him from political attention: forty of his works were shown in the 'Entartete Kunst' exhibition of 1933 and Felixmüller was one of the many victims of Wolfgang Willrich's Säuberung des Kunsttempels ('Cleansing of the Temple of Art'), having 151 paintings confiscated and destroyed in 1937-1938.

Painted in 1926, the present work belongs to a transition period in Felixmüller's career in which he further developed his own personal style, a unique brand of Expressionism which was more naturalistic, brighter and in keeping with his new found domesticity. Kinderfastnachtstreiben depicts a children's carnival on Shrove Tuesday, a traditional release of high spirits before the more sombre period of Lent. Arguably one of Felixmüller's most ambitious and complex compositions from this period, it is a tour de force of colour and unadulterated joy. Leading the carnival and dressed in a clown's costume, replete with face paint, can be seen Luca, Felixmüller's eldest son. It is likely that the smaller child next to him, also in costume and wearing a pointed orange hat is Titus, Luca's younger brother. The palette of Kinderfastnachtstreiben is explosive, a vibrant celebration of the joy and innocence of childhood, and Felixmüller revels in the smallest details; the oversized suit worn by the child at front right, the confetti and streamers littering the foreground, the occasional mask or false nose and above all the brightness of the children's clothes and smiles lighting up the gloomy dusk around them.

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