Ruderpartie auf der Wümme
Oil on canvas 80 x 62.5 cm Framed. Signed and dated 'O Modersohn 25.' in red lower left. - An inconspicuous, short professionally restored canvas defect in the upper right pictorial area.
Otto Modersohn's work culminates in his landscapes: seasonal atmospheres, the infinite allure of the changing tones of light in nature, the mysterious as well as magical reflections of air and water - particularly during the period he spent in Fischerhude in the mid-1920s, the artist concentrated these elementary, scarcely tangible phenomena into painterly tableaux which encapsulate the core of his artistic project. His landscapes transform “into two-dimensional, wholly transparently constructed, chromatically layered pictorial spaces” (Christian Modersohn, cited in: exhib. cat., Otto Modersohn. Fischerhude 1908-1943, Otto Modersohn Museum, Bremen 1993, p. 12).
The present composition is a particularly fine example of this specific achievement, full of the magical cohesions he achieved. Representational elements, such as the flat-bottomed boat, the ducks and the grazing livestock, congeal into dabbed visual indications within a pictorial architecture of finely gradated applications of colour and directional brushstrokes - calling to mind Modersohn's journal entry of 1924, in which he succinctly declares his unconditional reverence for the art of Cézanne. In the series of light-filled landscapes from those years, which depict the shallow water of the summer floods and frequently also the Wümme river, with its watery reflections, Otto Modersohn composes a chromatic and formal play of contrasts which are defined in a painterly manner and do not shy away from decisive accents. Here it is the shimmering red reflection of a distant brick wall, which has been positioned as a colour element along the central axis of a picture that appears like a scheme of paradise.
“Poetry is selection. And when everything important is there, then one thing binds the other with the magnetic force of masses, and it integrates itself on its own - that is, according to its own laws - into a unified form that is not open anywhere. [...] In Modersohn's work it is not a serving of nature, but a domination of nature, whose images are taken in and processed. Every sketch from his hand shows the dreamer, the 'ponderer', as Gottfried Keller said, who uses the real only in order to articulate himself, like the pianist needs the ready-made tones provided to him by the instrument in order to form them into the chords and harmonies into which he can allow his inmost feelings to flow. The colours well up, the lights flutter, the ether of the air sways back and forth: everything corresponds to reality, though it is not reality and is the deepest, most personal affirmation. There is a peculiar sound to these pictures” (Rainer Maria Rilke to Otto Modersohn, from “Worpswede-Fischerhude”, cited in: Otto Modersohn, op. cit., Bremen 1993, pp. 25/26).
With a certificate by Rainer Noeres, Otto Modersohn Museum Fischerhude, dated 20 March 2020; an expert report by Christian Modersohn as of 8 Dec.1992 is registered in the archive.
Studio Otto Modersohn; Private collection, North Germany; Schloß Ahlden, Auction 67, 14 Sept. 1990, lot 1347; Galerie Cohrs-Zirus, Worpswede (1992); Private collection, Hesse