Oskar Schlemmer - Bauplastik R
Bronze sculpture Height 98.8 cm Inscribed and dated "PROBEGUSS BRONZE 1964 UNVERKÄUFLICH FÜR JULIAN HILDEBRANDT" on lower right side. Posthumous cast 1964; unique piece in this material, beside the edition of 10 aluminium casts. Foundry H. Noack, Berlin. - Fine golden brown patina.
The highly important bronze sculpture “Bauplastik R” concisely visualises Oskar Schlemmer's entire artistic oeuvre. His concept of an abstraction tied to the object is already formulated here.
In 1919, the year our relief was created, the school of applied art founded by Henry van de Velde in Weimar was reconstituted as the State Bauhaus. This educational institution was to be newer and more modern. The idea of shaping every area of life in the sense of a total work of art developed into the principle that form was now to follow function and thus move beyond the notion of beauty developed in the 19th century. The new motto “form follows function” was made to provide the foundation for the measure and needs of human beings.
In 1920 Walter Gropius offered a position at the Bauhaus to Oskar Schlemmer, who headed the class for wall decoration - an area of responsibility that is to be seen as directly connected with our relief. Formally the wall, as an architectonic component, is automatically inherent to the sculptural category of relief. And the measurement of the human body represents Oskar Schlemmer's most distinctively characteristic theme: in his wall decorations, his sculptures and paintings and also his works for the stage.
“He abstracts from the human form the idea of its line, the law of its proportions and its surface area” explains Paul Ferdinand Schmidt, Director of the Dresdener Städtische Kunstsammlungen, in the first extensive article about Oskar Schlemmer, which was published in Jahrbuch der jungen Kunst in 1921 (cited in Karoline Hille. Fläche-Raum-Unendlichkeit, in: exh. cat. Oskar Schlemmer. Wand-Bild-Bild-Wand, Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim 1988, p. 19).
Karin von Maur, who catalogued Oskar Schlemmer's work after Hans Hildebrandt, describes “Bauplastik R” in depth:
The “series of reliefs from 1919 [culminates] in 'Bauplastik R', in which Schlemmer abandons not just polychromy but, to a great extent, the attachment to the plane as well. The figure of a youth rises along the vertical axis of a narrow, upright rectangle - turned to the right, his slender contours are reduced to elementary geometric forms. His proportions produce a tectonic system made up of cubic rectangular fields, offset opposite one another on either side of the dividing and connecting longitudinal axis. Through the rhythmic alternation of concave and convex passages, the plane becomes recessed and raised on multiple levels in depth. This results in a framework that is no less clear than it is nuanced and consists of rectangular cavities, interrupted contours, sharp-edged ridges and rounded protrusions. Here, instead of colours, it is light that serves to activate the work by adding accents: depending on the lighting, remarkable and shifting contrasts between passages in the light and in shadow are generated and contribute to the three-dimensional sculptural composition as a dynamic element.
The profiled structural system, which cuts through the figure and renders its regular proportions visible, appears so logical in all of its parts that the figure and construction merge together into a harmonious whole” (Karin von Maur 1972, op. cit., p. 27).
Compared to the aluminium version, the play of light and shadow, surface and line, concave and convex appears even more nuanced in the bronze cast - realised only once in this material, this piece is thus to be seen as a unique work.
v. Maur P 10a (aluminium)
With a confirmation by Tut Schlemmer, Stuttgart, dated 10 March 1979
Estate of the artist; Gift from Tut Schlemmer to the previous owner, Family Hans Hildebrandt; Private collection
Karin v. Maur, Oskar Schlemmer, Das plastische Werk, Stuttgart 1972, p. 27, with full-page colour plate p. 25 (aluminium); Wulf Herzogenrath, Oskar Schlemmer. Die Wandgestaltung der neuen Architektur, Munich 1973, dir. 14.4, with illus. 227 (aluminium); Hans M. Wingler, Kleine Bauhaus-Fibel, Berlin 1974; p. 18, with illus. p. 20 (aluminium)
I.a. Bern 1959 (Kunsthalle Bern), Oskar Schlemmer, cat. no. 157 (aluminium); Hanover 1960/1961 i.a. travelling exhibition (Kestner-Gesellschaft), Oskar Schlemmer, cat. no. 158 (aluminium); Rome 1962 (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna), Oskar Schlemmer, cat. no. 44 (aluminium); London 1962 (Marlborough Fine Art), Painters of the Bauhaus, cat. no. 188 (aluminium); Berlin 1963 (Akademie der Künste), Oskar Schlemmer, cat. no. 254 (aluminium); Stuttgart 1968 (Württembergischer Kunstverein), 50 Jahre Bauhaus, p. 298, cat. no. 265 with illus.; London 1968/1971 i.a. travelling exhibition, 50 Jahre Bauhaus, p. 297, cat. no. 217 (aluminium); Berlin 1977 (Neue Nationalgalerie/Akademie der Künste/Große Orangerie), Tendenzen der Zwanziger Jahre, cat. no. 1/243, with illus. 112