SCHLEMMER Oskar
( 1888-1943). German painter, born in Stuttgart; died in Baden-Baden. After studying at the Stuttgart Academy with Adolf Hoelzel, Schlemmer came into contact with modern French and German painting in 1911, in Berlin. After the war, in 1920, he entered the Bauhaus, where he was chief of the sculpture and theatre sections. In 1929 he taught in Breslau and in 1932-1933 in Berlin, until his dismissal by the Nazis. Then he retired to Eichberg in Southern Germany, where he led a difficult life, exposed to attacks of the Nazi authorities. If at first the influence of Cézanne drew him near to Cubism, the example of Marées and Seurat soon became more important. Schlemmer's idiom was reduced to a geometry of straight lines and curves as early as 1915. By creating reliefs after the war in mortar and later in wire, he enriched his positions with spatial values. These reliefs organized and invigorated architectural space. At the same time he created ballets, and devoted himself to theatrical production. In a renewal of the theatrical idiom he sought elements of a synthesis of the arts, in which the human figure, the measure of a humanized universe, would recover its primal purity. During Schlemmer's years at the Bauhaus, his painting grew in scope; later (in Breslau) stressed diagonals enriched the dynamism of his composition: the picture The Staircase at the Baubaus ( 1932) stands as a synthesis of his research during this period. He felt the influence of his friend the Swiss painter, Otto Meyer-Amden, a promoter of whose work he became, chiefly after Meyer-Amden's death in 1933. At Eichberg, Schlemmer's colour darkened and figures emerged from a background in which the strokes of the brush were more visible. From then on a more accentuated mystical meaning appeared in his work, as in the abstract compositions he called Symbolics ( 1936) and the series of Windows ( 1942), in which the human figure reappeared, but more remote than before and seen from outside, as though dematerialized by the windowpane. A contemporary of Paul Klee and Kandinsky at the Bauhaus. Schlemmer was a painter of integrity and refinement. His early death, hastened by his maltreatment at the hands of the Nazis, robbed the world of a fine artist.
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