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Karl Hofer (1878-1955)
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Karl Hofer (1878-1955)


Karl Hofer (1878-1955)
signed with the artist's initials and dated 'CH45' (lower right)
oil on canvas
447/8 x 357/8in. (114 x 91cm.)
Painted in 1945
The Artist's estate (Nachlass no. 43; Wirnitzer no. 259).
Liesbeth Hofer, the artist's widow (1955).
Galerie Baukunst, Cologne (1975).
Galerie Czniklitzer, Cologne.
E. Kamm, 'Laie in der Ausstellung,' in Begegnung, 3 1948, H11 (illustrated p. 509).
C. Goslar, Exh. cat. Carl Hofer, 1953 (illustrated).
Kassel, Landesmuseum, 11. Austellung Studio Hessische Sezession, September-October 1948 (ex catalogue).
Freiburg im Breisgau, Kunstverein, Carl Hofer, April-May 1954, no. 22 (illustrated p. 5).
Witten/Ruhr, Märkisches Museum, Carl Hofer, July 1954, no. 5.
Cologne, Baukunst, Karl Hofer, January-April 1975, no. 47.
Halle, Staatliche Galerie Moritzburg, Karl Hofer, Nov. 1978-Feb. 1979.
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Lot Essay

With his placid and almost classical spirit, Karl Hofer stands out against the exalted and virtually violent climax of German Expressionism.
This singularity is particularly palpable in Badende, which he painted in 1945, the year in which the armistice finally put an end to the artist's struggle against Nazi censure and to his angst of seeing his country being torn apart by destruction. Preoccupied with the vast task of restoring German cultural life, Hofer painted very little in 1945 and works from this year are very rare. Hofer described the situation in his correspondence: " Intellectual life is very active, but a dance over chasm." (in: I. K. Rigby, Karl Hofer, New York 1976, p. 246.)
Badende is a painting born from this contradiction; at the same time serene and resigned, presenting the very classical scene of three bathers caught in delicate yet frozen postures. Breaking from the darkness that tinted his oeuvre during the war years, the three androgynous figures relate to his pre-war imagery and the formative years he spent in Paris. In fact, the almost surrealistic silhouettes of the bathers, gracefully outlined in pastel tones, call to mind both the mineral and elongated bodies of early Pablo Picasso work as well as the strangely melancholic faces of Marie Laurencin.
Hofer's bathers emphasise both the artist's aspiration for rebirth and his underlined acquiescence of the disasters of war. In this 'return to order', there is no bitterness or fierceness, but a mute and honest message of optimism.
Sold with a photo-certificate from Karl Bernhard Wohlert, from the Karl -Hofer-Dokumentation, dated Dortmund, den 29.2.1996 and indicating the archive number 1637.

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