WALTER DEXEL (1890-1973)
WALTER DEXEL (1890-1973)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE GERMAN COLLECTION
WALTER DEXEL (1890-1973)

Lokomotive von Vorne

WALTER DEXEL (1890-1973)
Lokomotive von Vorne
signed and dated 'W DEXEL 22' (lower left); signed, dated and inscribed 'WALTER DEXEL 22 LOKOMOTIVE VON VORNE' (on the reverse)
oil on burlap; in the artist's original frame
18 1⁄4 x 13 in. (47 x 33 cm.)
Painted in 1922

A collection’s many journeys
The works in this family collection were carefully brought together by a passionate collector and enthusiast of the arts over a period of almost thirty years, starting in the early 1960s. Works were bought after much consideration from a few trusted gallerists, occasionally at auction, or, wherever possible, from the artists themselves. Treasures that artists including Hannah Hoch and Walter Dexel had hidden during the Second World War were finally purchased with a combination of money and charm after much discussion of their respective merits. Emerging artists including Richard Oelze and Friedensreich Hundertwasser were supported with, for example, the occasional purchase of a work. The collector would drive through the night across Germany and Switzerland to visit artist friends, attend museum openings or view auction previews. Each new purchase was shown to the family and explained and discussed before finding its place on the walls of the family home. This was not investment, this was a ceaseless passion. The collection was to be enjoyed, on the walls of the family home, and also by the general public – no museum loan request was declined and as the reputation of the rarities in this private collection grew, more museum loan requests would follow. There was a constant stream of shippers arriving at the door collecting loans for museums across Germany and the United States. The collection’s journey has continued for another thirty years in the hands of the collector’s family after his passing. Some of the masterpieces in the collection found their way to prestigious museum collections and others are now being sold, so that they can continue on the next phase of their journey.
Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin, by 1938.
Private collection, North Germany, by 1962.
W. Hofmann, Der Maler Walter Dexel, Kunst und Uwelt, vol. IV, Starnberg, 1972, no. 33, p. 15 (illustrated).
W. Vitt (ed.), Hommage à Dexel. Beiträge zum 90. Geburtstag des Künstlers, Starnberg, 1980, p. 15.
R. Wöbkemeier, Walter Dexel 1890-1973, Werkverzeichnis: Gemälde, Hinterglasbilder, Gouachen, Aquarelle, Collagen, Ölstudien, Entwürfe zu Bühnenbildern, Heidelberg, 1995, no. 181, p. 198 (illustrated).
Braunschweig, Städtisches Museum, Walter Dexel: Gemälde, Hinterglasbilder, Aquarelle, Collage, 1912 bis 1932, Feburary - March 1962, no. 50 (dated '1923').
Hanover, Kunstverein Hannover, Die 20er Jahre in Hannover, Bildende, Kunst, Literatur, Theater, Tanz, Architektur, 1916-1933, August - September 1962, no. J.12, p. 215 (illustrated; dated '1923').
Duisburg, Lehmbruck-Museum, Industrie und Technik in der deutschen Malerei, May - July 1969, no. 174, p. 157 (illustrated).
Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Walter Dexel, January - March 1974, no. 220, pp. 10 & 55 (illustrated).
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Walter Dexel, May - July 1979, no. 59, p. 170; this exhibition later travelled to Ulm, Ulmer Museum, August - September 1979.
Berlin, Kunstamt Wedding, Walter Dexel, zum 10. Todestag, Ölbilder - Köpfe, September - October 1983, no. 50.
Bremen, Kunsthalle, Walter Dexel, Bild Zeichen Raum, November 1990 - January 1991, no. 27, pp. 175 (illustrated p. 101); this exhibition later travelled to Wuppertal, Von der Heydt-Museum, February - March 1991; Berlin, Bauhaus-Archiv, April - June 1991; Wolfsburg, Kunstverein, June - July 1991; Karlsruhe, Badischer Kunstverein, August - September 1999.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Micol Flocchini
Micol Flocchini Head of Works on Paper Sale

Lot Essay

Lokomotive von Vorne dates from 1922, a pivotal period in Walter Dexel’s œuvre, when, in his prominent position as Art Director at the Art Union in Jena, the artist frequented various circles of artists and intellectuals, most notably befriending the Dutch De Stijl artist Théo van Doesburg, who fostered his progressive shift towards non-representational subject matters.
The painting belongs to a well-celebrated group of works the artist executed in 1921-1923 in various medium, highlighting technical subjects, such as sailing boats, steamships, locomotives, airplanes, and unspecified machines, confronting modern inventions in an avant-garde style, his subject and method in artistic concordance.
The series begins with a steam engine (Dampfmaschine, 1921, Wöbkemeier no. 169), in which, unlike in the following images, the colour fields are not yet on one level; rather, the two bands running diagonally to the oval assume a dominant role and push the other colour fields onto a second level. The detailed graphic designation of the other colour fields reinforces this effect.
In Lokomotive 1921 XI (Wöbkemeier no. 173) and in the airplane Das Flugzeug, 1922, (Wöbkemeier no. 182), in the collection of the Kunsthalle Augsburg, Munich, the dark fields become signs of movement. With the electric meter, Der Elektrische Zähler, 1922 (Wöbkemeier no. 184), the contrast in brightness becomes the new area contrast. In order to achieve symbolic field effects, Dexel no longer contrasts these areas in order to use the colour contrast to thematize spatial effects or image movements. In the past he still gained the painterly unity from the subject - namely from the tension between the imaginary image and the object.
This double perspective in the questioning of the surface was still present in the rhythmic pictures between 1917 and 1920 and caused the stage-like impression of the early work. Now the shapes are no longer determined by their relation to the total area. The new symbolic pictorial elements build up more from the central axis of the picture than from the edges of the picture. The pictures from 1922, which are reflected in a constantly recurring balance on the central axis, could tend to be continued beyond the edge of the picture. (R. Wöbkemeier, ‘Das Werk Dexels in seiner Zeit’, in Walter Dexel, Werkverzeichnis, Heidelberg, 1995, p. 54)
The vocabulary that Dexel employs in this extraordinary group of works is condensed, in Lokomotive von Vorne, in a relatively small space; diagonal lines intersect curved shapes lending the composition a sense of movement, which seem to continue beyond the edge of the canvas. When Dexel works with concise spatial energies, light against dark, pointed against round, are not heated up dissonantly, but are given a geometric rhythm.
In the present lot Dexel’s incredibly meticulous and strict approach to the surface is also at its best: the circular disks are fully geometrically positioned in the central axis, which gives the picture a perfect sense of balance.
Offered at auction for the first time, having remained in the same private collection for over fifty years, Lokomotive von Vorne constitutes a superb example of Walter Dexel's distinct constructivist idiom.

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