Ludwig Meidner - Caféhaus (Caféhausszene)
Pen and ink drawing (reed pen and brush) over pencil on firm, slightly brown drawing paper 47.6 x 34 cm Signed and dated 'LMeidner 1914' in India ink lower right. - The sheet with various drawing pin holes upper right and left; the lower edge with a narrow crease mark and horizontally torn on the left. - Minimally browned, partially minor foxing.
"It is not possible to master our problem with the technique of the Impressionists. We have to forget all previous processes and trucs [Fr. coll. for "tricks"] and adopt entirely new means of expression" notes Ludwig Meidner in his essay "Anleitung zum Malen von Großstadtbildern" (Instructions for painting pictures of cities), which was published in the journal "Kunst und Künstler" in 1914 (cited in exhib. cat. Ludwig und Else Meidner, Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Frankfurt am Main, 2002, p. 30). Meidner's eminent talent as a draughtsman became particularly occupied with urban experiences and encounters in expressive, intense notations processing the new stylistic means of Cubism and Futurism. Especially his portraits and more finished sketches take the form of brilliant interpretations of humanity, the lone individual and contemporary society. They are formally aggressive, sensitive and extremely alert artistic observations of the prevailing spirit of the times.
In the "Caféhausszene" here, a vivid, enticing tension emerges out of the cropping and diagonals, the graphically unfurled and rhythmic hatching and the concentrations of deep black contrasting with these tangled lines. The cafe scenery is closed off in the rear and is difficult to interpret: the folds of a curtain, dark blinds in front of deep windows, mirrored panelling … The representational, the narrative element of the motif - its interconnections - are split apart and shoot back together again in semi-abstract details, in the manner of a crystalline prism. We only gradually recognise the orderly row of figures and men's heads, their physiognomies, their dark suits and shimmering black top hats, starched collars, the fronts of their dinner jackets and their cufflinks, joined by the little round tables with glasses, carafes and coffee cups - and, of course, scattered about everywhere: slender, elegant cigarettes. There are striking details, such as the sideways glance directed at the viewer by the cropped face in profile at the left edge, the monocle of a nervous elderly gentleman which flashes at the very centre of the picture and an isolated, disproportionately large hand under the table at the bottom right, which holds a burning-out cigarette away with angular fingers, possibly bothering a companion, who is only hinted at in her coat and hat.
For this lot, special conditions are applicable (legend "D" according to the conditions of sale).
We would like to thank Erik Riedel, Ludwig Meidner-Archiv, Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, for friendly information.
Formerly Sammlung Thomas Grochowiak, Recklinghausen; Graphisches Kabinett Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner, Bremen; Klaus J. Jacobs Collection, Zurich
Thomas Grochowiak, Ludwig Meidner, Recklinghausen 1966, with illus. no. 105
Recklinghausen/ Berlin/ Darmstadt 1963/1964 (Kunsthalle Recklinghausen/ Haus Am Waldsee Berlin/ Kunsthalle Darmstadt), Ludwig Meidner, cat. no. 92 with illus.; New York 1985 (Helen Serger/ La Boetie Inc. mit Wolfgang Werner KG, Bremen), Strictly Drawings 20th Century Masters, cat. no. 21 with illus.; Darmstadt 1991 (Mathildenhöhe), Ludwig Meidner, Zeichner, Maler, Literat, p. 510 n. cat. no. with illus p. 119 ("Caféhausszene")