Walter Dexel (1890-1973)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Christie’s is delighted to have been appointed by UniCredit to manage the sale of artworks from Austria, Germany and Italy. The proceeds will be primarily used to support the further roll-out of the Group’s Social Impact Banking (SIB) initiatives. The remaining balance will be dedicated to other relevant projects, including the support of emerging artists. Following the excellent results of a selection of artworks already presented at various Christie’s international salerooms in 2019, 2020 will begin with the first pieces being offered in London on 6 February as part of the Impressionist & Modern Art Day and Works on Paper sales. UniCredit will also look to replace the masterpieces sold with works of young and emerging artists. The offering is led by Walter Dexel’s Segelschiff I, one of only five known avant-gardist representations of sailing boats within the German artist’s series of works on technical modern inventions. Completed in 1922, this superb example of 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 Jean (Hans) Arp, El Lissitzky and contemporaries associated with the Bauhaus movement including the likes of Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius. Another star lot from this outstanding group is a work by a member of Dexel’s circle – Kurt Schwitters’ Ohne Titel (Gute Laune), circa 1945. The painting combines large areas of delicately painted geometric shapes, organic abstract forms and collage elements – exemplary of Schwitters’ growing interest in the raw and tactile physicality of paint during the late period of his artistic career. An exceptional selection from the Works on Paper sale completes the grouping, with three other fantastic works by Schwitters, Dexel’s Quadrat und Kreis (circa 1926) and Franz Radziwill’s Strandszene mit Krüppeln (1922). Social Impact Banking is part of UniCredit’s commitment to building a fairer and more inclusive society. It aims to identify, finance and promote people and companies that can have a positive social impact. As well as continuing to provide credit to projects and organisations not usually served by the traditional banking sector, UniCredit employees educate micro-entrepreneurs, social enterprises and vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, building valuable networks within our communities. SIB also focuses on monitoring and measuring outcomes, essential for sustainable growth. In 2019 SIB focused on further roll-out in additional UniCredit markets, including: Germany, Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. UniCredit is a successful pan-European Commercial Bank, with a fully plugged in CIB, delivering a unique Western, Central and Eastern European network to its extensive client franchise. UniCredit offers both local and international expertise to its clients, providing them with unparalleled access to leading banks in its fourteen core markets through its European banking network. Leveraging on an international network of representative offices and branches, UniCredit serves clients in another eighteen countries worldwide.ART FOR FUTURE – SELECTED WORKS FROM THE UNICREDIT GROUP
Walter Dexel (1890-1973)

Segelschiff I

Walter Dexel (1890-1973)
Segelschiff I
signed and dated 'W DEXEL 22' (lower left); signed, dated and inscribed 'WALTER DEXEL 22 SEGELSCHIFF' (on the reverse)
oil on burlap
28 3/8 x 21 5/8 in. (72.1 x 55.1 cm.)
Painted in 1922
Grete Dexel (the artist's wife), Braunschweig, by descent from the artist in 1973, and until at least 1974.
Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, by 1979.
Acquired by the present owner in 1984.
F. Nemitz, 'Maler, Historiker und Pädagoge', in Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, 1964, no. 9.
W. Vitt, 'Das Werk von Walter Dexel', in exh. cat., Walter Dexel, Basel, 1970.
W. Hofmann, Der Maler Walter Dexel, Starnberg, 1972, pp. 10 & 16 (illustrated pl. 36).
A. Lora-Totino, 'Walter Dexel evoluzione costruttivista', in exh. cat., Walter Dexel, Turin, 1973.
W. Vitt, 'Der Maler Walter Dexel', in exh. cat., Walter Dexel, Hannover, 1974, p. 10 (illustrated p. 54).
R. Wöbkemeier, W. Vitt & W. Hofmann, Walter Dexel, 1890-1973, Werkverzeichnis, Gemälde, Hinterglasbilder, Gouachen, Aquarelle, Collagen, Ölstudien, Entwürfe zu Bühnenbildern, Heidelberg, 1995, no. 176, p. 196 (illustrated).
Braunschweig, Städtischen Museum, Walter Dexel, February - March 1962, no. 39 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, May - June 1962; Wiesbaden, Städtisches Museum, June - August 1962; Oldenburg, Oldenburger Kunstverein, October - November 1962; Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, March 1963; and Vienna, Museum des XX. Jahrhunderts Eröffnungsausstellung, September - November 1962.
Munich, Kunst Kabinett Klihm, Walter Dexel, February - March 1964, no. 9 (illustrated).
Trier, Städtisches Museum, Walter Dexel, February - March 1965, no. 18 (illustrated p. 39); this exhibition later travelled to Kassel, Staatliche Werkkunstschule und Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, May - June 1965; and Duisburg, Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum, March - April 1966.
Braunschweig, Kunstverein, Walter Dexel, January - March 1970, no. 21.
Paris, Centre Culturel Allemand, Walter Dexel, peintures, gravures, February 1972, no. 9.
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Walter Dexel, January - March 1974.
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Walter Dexel, May - July 1979, no. 56, p. 170 (illustrated p. 76); this exhibition later travelled to Ulm, Ulmer Museum, August - September 1979.
Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Seestücke. Von Max Beckmann bis Gerhard Richter, June - September 2007, no. 24, p. 202 (illustrated p. 45).
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. VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buyer's premium

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Ottavia Marchitelli
Ottavia Marchitelli

Lot Essay

In the early 1920s Walter Dexel created a series of works which treated technical subjects, such as sailing boats, steam ships, locomotives and airplanes. He confronted modern inventions in an avant-garde style, his subject and method in artistic concordance. Among them, there are only five known works representing sailing boats, and Segelschiff I is the only oil painting from this rare series.

The square-rigged sailing boat depicted in Segelschiff I is a superb example of Dexel’s distinct Constructivist idiom. Diagonals are to represent the sails, cream-coloured L-shaped geometric forms to delineate the mast and its spars, the hull in quarter-circles below. The whole composition is built up with subtle contrasts of red, beige and blue, a play of fine harmonies and softened complementary colours. It thereby reflects the aim of the Constructivists, towards an artform of an ordered and rationalised universe, in the wake of the atrocities that the First World War had recently scarred them with.

‘In stark contrast to De Stijl, [Dexel] emphasised, in relation to Bruno Taut’s painted facades of 1921 in Magdeburg, the necessity for light and broken colours, even years later: “…buildings painted in white, delicate yellow, light blue, light pink and light green colours, naturally not in succession and not one next to the other, but broken up with compensatory half-tones and with sparse dark, black or even colourful accents in between, result in agreeable images!”’ (W. Dexel, ‘Farbiger Hausanstrich’, in Frankfurter Zeitung, 22 November 1926).

Segelschiff I dates from 1922, a key period in Dexel’s œuvre, when the artist, in his capacity as Art Director at the Art Union in Jena, Germany, 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.

‘Contemporary critics emphasised the pleasant colouring of Dexel’s compositions. Willi Wolfradt speaks of his “chromatic delicacy”, Will Grohmann in 1924 of “pink and yellow forms of child-like cheerfulness and naivety”, which Albert Kranoldt described as “an abstract spirituality and sensuous beauty of colour and harmony … that is wonderfully balanced and conveys something endlessly soothing.” 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).

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