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)

Das schräge U

WALTER DEXEL (1890-1973)
Das schräge U
signed 'W. DEXEL' (lower right); inscribed 'VORSICHT! HINTERGLASBILD W DEXEL 28 DAS SCHRÄGE "U"' (on the reverse)
oil on glass
12 ¼ x 12 ¼ in. (31 x 31 cm.)
Painted in 1928
Private collection, North Germany, by whom acquired directly from the artist in 1964.
W. Hofmann, 'Der Maler Walter Dexel', in Kunst und Umwelt, vol. 4, Starnberg, 1972, p. 62 (illustrated).
E.-G. Güse, 'Zwischen Expressionismus und Konstruktivismus', in W. Vitt, Hommage a' Dexel. Beitra¨ge zum 90. Geburtstag des Ku¨nstlers, Starnberg, 1980, p. 46 (illustrated fig. 11, p. 45).
R. Wöbkemeier, Walter Dexel, Werkverzeichnis: Gemälde, Hinterglasbilder, Gouachen, Aquarelle, Collagen, Ölstudien, Entwürfe zu Bühnenbildern, Heidelberg, 1995, no. 346, p. 271 (illustrated).
Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Walter Dexel, January - March 1974, no. 232, p. 112.
Munster, Westfa¨lisches Landesmuseum fu¨r Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Walter Dexel, Bilder, Aquarelle, Collagen, Leuchtreklame, Typografie, May - July 1979, no. 141, p. 173; this exhibition later travelled to Ulm, Ulmer Museum, August - September 1979.
Cologne, Galerie Stolz, Scho¨ne Tage im Hause Dexel..., Das Ga¨stebuch. Walter Dexel zum 100. Geburtstag, February - April 1990, pp. 118 (listed under note 103).
Bremen, Kunsthalle, Walter Dexel, Bild, Zeichen, Raum. Retrospektive. Ausstellung zum 100. Geburtstag, November 1990 - January 1991, no. 72, pp. 37 & 177 (illustrated p. 34).
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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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Lot Essay

In his capacity as Art Director at the Art Union in Jena, Germany, Walter Dexel came into close contact with an extensive network of artists and intellectuals. Some of the most influential were Jean (Hans) Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Kurt Schwitters and El Lissitzky, also associated with the Bauhaus movement, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius, as well as De Stijl artists, most notably Théo van Doesburg, with whom Dexel developed a close friendship from 1921 onwards. His work was later exhibited in several exhibitions alongside many of his fellow artists at Herwarth Walden's Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin. Dexel's illustrious network of connections is not only representative of his prominent position within the avant-garde circles of the time, but the diverse milieu he was part of is also telling of the wide variety of practices he pursued; in fact he was not restricting himself to painting, but he was also practising design, scholarship, typography and curating.

Das schräge U or 'Sloping U' demonstrates Dexel at perhaps his most experimental and diverse, displaying how these various practices influenced his work. Executed on glass, Dexel skilfully and successfully manipulates the support by applying the oil paint with absolute precision, distilling the composition down to, in essence, a typographic shape represented in a brilliantly balanced contrast of pure colour blocks. Indeed, just a year before this work was executed, the publication of Tschichold's book Die Neue Typographie (The New Typography) had catalysed the adoption of modernist graphics in cities throughout Germany, including Magdeburg, where Dexel arrived in 1928 in order to take over a teaching post there, from his friend Johannes Molzahn. Das schräge U was surely a response to this publication and the seismic shift it instigated within the world of design and graphics.

In his tilt of the 'U' and symbiotic positioning of simple forms against a rich black background, Dexel masterfully creates this state of suspense and tension alongside that of absolute purity of form and calmness. 'It is this point that marks his bold contemporariness. His compositions are neither cold nor stark. The viability of the forms lies in their pleasant balance. Wolfradt describes Dexel as ''no Constructivist pedant and no Constructivist impostor''' (R. Wöbkemeier, W. Vitt & W. Hofmann, Walter Dexel 1890-1973: Werkverzeichnis, Gemälde, Hinterglasbilder, Gouachen, Aquarelle, Collagen, Ölstudien, Entwürfe zu Bühnenbildern, Heidelberg, 1995, p. 60). Painted in 1928, Das schräge U is an exceedingly rare and multifaceted example of the artist's late work, only nine years before he would abandon his painting practice all together.

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