Willi Baumeister International

Willi Baumeister and European Modernism 1920s–1950s

November 21st 2014 — April 12th 2015
Mercedes-Benz Contemporary

Stuttgart artist Willi Baumeister (1889 – 1955) is one of the most important German artists of the postwar period and among the most significant representatives of abstract painting. His influence as an avant-garde artist, as a professor at the Frankfurt Municipal School for Applied Arts and after 1946 at the Stuttgart Academy, and as a major art theoretician could be felt far beyond Germany.

From early on, Baumeister was in close contact with French artists and exhibited his works in Italy, Spain, France, and Switzerland. He could seamlessly resume these contacts after the Second World War. The exhibition retraces his international relations to gallerists, collectors and art historians. It will, for the first time, present parts of his private art collection, which he assembled through swapping his own works for paintings by his artist friends.

The collection comprises, among others, paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, Hans Arp, Fernand Léger, and Kazimir Malevich. The focus of the exhibition is on central groups of works by Willi Baumeister, ranging from his constructivist phase to the “Mauerbilder” and the late “Montaru” paintings as well as the “Afrika” series. They offer an overview of the development of Baumeister’s oeuvre and at the same time demonstrate his international reputation. The works will be supplemented by archival materials such as letters, newspaper articles, and unpublished photographs that impressively illustrate the high degree to which he was recognized both in Germany and abroad. Together they reveal the multifaceted image of an artist who engaged in an intense exchange with the international art scene before and after the Second World War.

With works on loan by Jean Arp, Max Bill, Julius Bissier, Carlo Carrá, Marc Chagall, Albert Gleizes, Roberta Gonzalez, Camille Graeser, Hans Hartung, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Franz Krause, Le Corbusier, Fernand Leger, El Lissitzky, August Macke, Otto Meyer-Amden, Juan Miro, László Moholy-Nagy, Amédée Ozenfant, Pablo Picasso, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schwitters, Michel Seuphor, Gino Severini and Zao Wou-Ki.




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    Talk with Renate Wiehager and Beat Wyss
    In the post-war period, Willi Baumeister was one of the best-known German artists outside of Germany – and was proclaimed to be "Picasso allemand" by the French press. A painter, he was a significant contemporary of the avant-garde generation, and was also a pugnacious theorist who challenged the one-time hangers-on of the Hitler regime.
    This dialogue between Renate Wiehager and Beat Wyss is intended to illuminate Baumeister’s art by placing it in the context of his era. Beat Wyss is a professor and holder of the chair for arts studies and media theory at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe. He has published works concerned with Willi Baumeister, and with the theory of art in the post-war period.




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