Heinrich Campendonk (1889-1957)
Heinrich Campendonk (1889-1957)

Sitzender Akt--Adda gewidmet

Heinrich Campendonk (1889-1957)
Sitzender Akt--Adda gewidmet
signed with initial and dated 'C. Febr.19' (lower right)
gouache, watercolor and brush and India ink on paper
15½ x 14 in. (39.4 x 35.6 cm.)
Painted in February 1919
Galerie Flechtheim, Dusseldorf (by 1920).
Galerie Ferdinand Möller, Berlin.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Dr. Ernst Hauswedell, Hamburg.
Charles Tabachnick, Toronto; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 19 November 1986, lot 20.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
A. Firmenich, Heinrich Campendonk, 1889-1957, Recklinghaysen, 1989, no. 804 (illustrated).
Heinrich Campendonk, exh. cat., Stadtmuseum Penzberg, 2002, p. 87 (illustrated).
Dusseldorf, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Campendonk, June 1920, no. 46 (titled Adda C. gewidmet).

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

Heinrich Campendonk dedicated this radiant picture, executed in February 1919, to his wife and confidante Adelheid, who was known by the diminutive "Adda." The couple had met in 1905 when studying together at the Kunstgewerbeschule in the artist's native Krefeld, and married seven years later. Campendonk featured Adda in a number of his works over the years, depicting her variously in the role of wife, mother and muse. "I always dream of painting you," Campendonk had written to Adda in 1909, "I would paint your dark hair in the deepest colours, with Prussian blue... I would intensify all of the colours and all the love which I have to suppress would be set free in the picture' (H. Campendonk, letter to A. Deichmann, 13 January 1909, in A. Firmenich, op. cit., p. 18). With its glowing red heart inscribed with the name "ADDA", Sitzender Akt--Adda gewidmet (Seated Nude-- Dedicated to Adda) can be seen as the visual manifestation of this love and a demonstration of the integral role love played in the creation of Campendonk's art.

The large, multihued figure of a female nude shown on a pool of deep blue paint is the focal point of the composition. Around this, Campendonk has created a fantastical, almost surreal, realm of stylized vegetation, animals and figures. The integration of animals and figures into idyllic worlds of kaleidoscopic color was a perennial theme in Campendonk's art, having first emerged in 1911 during his association with the Der Blaue Reiter artists. Through it, he expressed his ideal of man, animal and nature living together in harmonious communion. It was only in 1917, however, that the depiction of the female nude--which to Campendonk symbolized a freer and more primordial state--became an important and recurring motif in his oeuvre. His bold nudes of this period may have been inspired by Paul Gauguin's Tahitian paintings, which, as Andrea Firmenich has pointed out, Campendonk could well have seen in Germany (see Firmenich, ibid., p. 188). Indeed, the nude's simplified features, the vibrant colors and decorative surface patterns of this picture point to an interest in the primitive and vernacular art that had been such an important inspiration both to Gauguin and to avant-garde painters more generally. As was characteristic of his assimilative approach, in Sitzender Akt--Adda gewidmet Campendonk combines this with a modern, Cubist-inspired pictorial language of overlapping and intersecting shard-like planes of translucent color.

Sitzender Akt--Adda gewidmet was exhibited in 1920 in the Galerie Flechtheim, Düsseldorf. It subsequently passed through the hands of some of the most influential art dealers and galleries of the twentieth century including Ferdinand Möller, a champion of German avant-garde art, and the highly esteemed Galerie Beyeler, later forming part of Charles Tabachnick's important collection of Fauve and German Expressionist works.

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