Heinrich Campendonk - Zwei Radfahrer in Landschaft
Zwei Radfahrer in Landschaft
India ink, watercolour and body colour over preparatory pencil drawing on thick, chamois-coloured paper 40.5 x 43 cm Framed under glass. Unsigned. - Handwritten estate annotation by Edith van Leckwyck-Campendonk, the artist's wife, verso lower right: "1914/ Nachlass Heinrich Campendonk/best.: Edith Campendonk". - In original condition with vibrant colours. The sheet irregularly torn and cut; overall creased, horizontal trace of folding in the upper half of the composition, the lower left corner of the sheet torn out at an early stage. Minor marginal tear lower right.
In the autumn of 1911 Campendonk settled down in close proximity to Franz Marc in Sindelsdorf. By way of their cordial relationships with Helmuth Macke in Krefeld and August Macke in Tegernsee, Marc and Kandinsky became aware of Campendonk's work and invited him to come to the Allgäu in Upper Bavaria. The personal and artistic links of these years of the “Blauer Reiter” were intimate and diverse and, in Campendonk's own words, they were among his happiest years. As one of the youngest members of the circle surrounding Kandinsky, Werefkin, Marc, Macke and Klee, he was provided with powerful impulses for his own creative work.
The present gouache is from 1913/1914, one of the most important periods in the artist's oeuvre. The central graphic subject of the cyclists enters into a union - dynamised in terms of colour and form - with the surrounding landscape. At the focal point of this vibrant abstract composition featuring intersecting diagonals, the outlines of the two riders are offset against one another, and their outlines doubled in a way that produces a kinetic accent reminiscent of Futurism. The cheerful, luminous colours atmospherically and symbolically stand for light, fresh air and sun. A feeling of lightness and weightlessness ensues.
It is well-known that Campendonk's fellow “Blauer Reiter” artists Gabriele Münter and Kandinsky went on numerous cycling tours together and were quite athletic. There is a charming 1902 photo of Kandinsky from his early period in Kochel: he presents himself to the camera with a smile and his bicycle. Münter is also said to have stated that she would “prefer to always cycle when travelling”. She liked to have her bicycle sent after her “because without a bicycle, one is only half human.” (cited in Gisela Kleine, Gabriele Münter und Wassily Kandinsky, Biographie eines Paares, Frankfurt 1994, pp. 53, 234; cf. also e.g. pp. 51 ff., 95) In Campendonk's watercolour it is certainly not only the joy of movement in itself but primarily the freedom gained in this way that finds expression in the widest sense - an ideal subject for a composition of the new art.
Firmenich 482 AD
We would like to thank Gisela Geiger, Penzberg, for additional information.
Private collection, South Germany (since 1961); Private collection, North Rhine-Westphalia
Roman Norbert Ketterer, 36th auction, Stuttgart 3/4 May 1961, lot 44 with illus. p. 133 ("Radfahrer in Landschaft")