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 NORWEGIAN COLLECTION
WALTER DEXEL (1890-1973)

1922 VIII A

Details
WALTER DEXEL (1890-1973)
1922 VIII A
signed 'W DEXEL 22' (lower right); signed, dated and inscribed 'VORSICHT! GLASBILD ZERBRECHLICH WALTER DEXEL 1922 VIII A' (on the reverse)
oil on glass in the artist's frame
14 ½ x 9 7/8 in. (37.2 x 25 cm.)
Painted in 1922
Provenance
Galerie Gmurzynska-Bargera, Cologne, by 1971.
Private collection, Norway, by whom acquired from the above in 1972, and thence by descent to the present owner.
Literature
R. Wöbkemeier, Walter Dexel, Werkverzeichnis: Gemälde, Hinterglasbilder, Gouachen, Aquarelle, Collagen, Ölstudien, Entwürfe zu Bühnenbildern, Heidelberg, 1995, no. 189, p. 201 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska-Bargera, Deutsche Avantgarde 1915-1935, Konstruktivisten, September 1971 - January 1972, no. 62 (illustrated; incorrectly titled '1922 VII A' and dated '1924').
Braunschweig, Städtisches Museum, Walter Dexel, Gemälde, Hinterglasbilder, Aquarelle, Collagen, 1912 bis 1932, February - March 1962, no. 61 (titled 'Konstruktivistische Figuration VIIIA').
Mainz, Gutenberg-Museum, Hinterglas-Malerei im XX. Jahrhundert, November - December 1962, no. 14 (titled 'Konstruktivistische Figuration VIIIA').
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.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Sale Room Notice
Please note the additional cataloguing for this work on christies.com; and that the work is presented in the artist's frame.

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Lot essay

Painted in 1922, this superb example of Walter Dexel’s distinct Constructivist idiom dates from a key period when the artist came into close contact with a network of influential figures of the early 20th-century art circuit. Namely, he formed close friendships with Théo van Doesburg, Kurt Schwitters, and other contemporaries, associated with the Bauhaus movement, including the likes of László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius and Paul Klee, whom Dexel invited to give the famous lecture, 'On Modern Art’, in 1924.


During this pivotal period of his career, Walter Dexel exhibited several times at the Galerie Der Sturm, a space opened in 1912 under the driving force of Herwarth Walden, and by then considered to be the focus for Berlin's modern art scene, as well as in Jena, where he had been appointed the Director of the Kunstverein in 1916. Particularly significant was the exhibition he assembled in 1923, under the title ‘Constructivist’: taking part were Buchholz, Segal, Peri, Rohl, Dexel, Baumeister, Burchartz and Fischer, who were aiming to express the reduction of the problems in painting to constructivist forms.

Among the German interpreters of the Moderns, the architect Ludwig Hilberseimer has given the most precise meaning to the Constructivist idea: ‘Suprematism leads non-objective art to its final conclusions. The fact that a Suprematist could cover a true square with an evenly applied colour meant the end of abstraction. The complete annihilation of subject matter. […] Suprematism dissects the stereometric pictorial elements of Cubism into planimetric ones. Result: the painting of large flat areas. A rhythmic game of abstract planes. Simple geometric figures. […] The Constructivists have taken a new path with great decisiveness. That of reality’. [...] ‘Constructivism is the logical consequence of the working methods of collectivity in our time. It is a basis not for subjective art but for art in general. It recognises social conditions of art as in life generally. New forms are found in the inventions of our industrial machine age. Mathematical clarity, geometrical exactitude, utilitarian organisation, strictest economy and precise construction, these are not only technical but also artistic problems […]’. ‘The works of the Constructivists are in the end only experiments with materials. They work consciously to solve new material and formal problems. They are works of transition for utilitarian architectonic constructions. A well disciplined training for architecture as the final goal!’ (quoted in exh. cat., The Non-Objective World 1914-1924, London, 1970, n. p.).

In everything he did – set design, architecture, advertisements and paintings, teaching art and making prints – Dexel was always interdisciplinary; his ultimate purpose was to apply artistic design to the whole environment. 22 VIII A demonstrates Dexel at perhaps his most experimental and diverse, displaying how these various practices influenced and were brought together in his work. Painting on glass, Dexel skilfully and successfully manipulates the support by applying the oil paint with absolute precision. An enthusiast for the medium, Dexel went so far in mastering this technique, he became the subject of the largest one of only three paintings Kurt Schwitters ever produced on glass. His work U11 for Dexel was executed in 1921 and dedicated to his fellow artist and friend, who is said to have given Schwitters the impulse behind this detour into the use of this medium.

The present lot is a particularly important example of ‘glass painting’, and brilliantly displays the artist’s ability to push his artistic boundaries beyond the use of pure primary colours, straight lines and right angles. In 22 VIII A, Dexel brings together a broad range of elements, filled with bold, contrasting colours: a meticulous juxtaposition of diagonals, straight lines and curved motifs are combined within a perfectly balanced, constructive composition. The present work appears to be the perfect synthesis of the artist’s most celebrated painting skills. The beautifully bright palette, declined through an intricate juxtaposition of smaller and larger elements, in the tones of pink and blue, is reminiscent of some of his major canvas paintings, such as Segelschiff I, 1922; while the sense or rigour and precision lent by his masterful use of this incredibly complex medium makes the work one of the best examples of his series of ‘glass paintings’. Acquired in 1972 from Galerie Gmurzynska by a private Norwegian collector, the present work has since remained in the same family, and is offered today for the first time at auction.

Lot Essay Header Image: Present lot illustrated (detail).

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