Willi Baumeister spent most of the Second World War in Wuppertal, where he was fortunate to find employment at the paint factory of the enlightened entrepreneur Kurt Herberts. There he encountered other artists deemed "degenerate" by the Nazi regime, such as his close friend Oskar Schlemmer and George Muche, amongst others. Having been represented by four paintings at the infamous "Entartete Kunst" Exhibition in Munich in 1937, Baumeister found it increasingly difficult to exhibit his work openly, and in 1941 he was officially prohibited from exhibiting in Germany altogether. This isolation and sense of oppression did not prevent Baumeister from painting and experimenting with technique, however. Baumeister was given the task of researching ancient and modern painting techniques for "Das Unbekannte in der Kunst", a book sponsored by Kurt Herbert. During this time Baumeister frequently went on excursions to archeological excavations in the Schwbisch Alb mountains, which greatly influenced his relief paintings in the years to follow.
In 1945 Baumeister moved to Horn on the Lake of Constance, and with the end of the war in sight, the mysterious, totemic figures in his paintings increasingly became colourful, expressing hope and joy that the end of his creative isolation was near. After the war ended, in 1946, Baumeister was asked to teach painting at the Kunstakademie of his native Stuttgart. Aufbruch, blau (Departure, blue) clearly relates to this new start in the Artist's life and career. The sombre figures from the deepest years of repression are replaced by the joyful exuberance of bright yellows, reds and blues. The Artist's personal freedom is almost palpable in Aufbruch, blau, for, as Baumeister stated earlier: "Ntig ist das Gefhl der grenzenlosen Freiheit und die Lust am Unbekannten. Das sind zwei fabelhafte Dinge und unendlich wert, sie zu empfinden. Fast alles daneben ist Rckstand, Schlacke." (From: Exh. Cat. Willi Baumeister, Institut fr Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart, 1981, p. 26).