As part of our Winter Exhibition, we are presenting a number of Impressionist and Modern paintings, including works by Fernand Léger, Pierre Bonnard, Jean Dubuffet, Pablo Picasso, Heinrich Campendonk and Rudolf Bauer.
We are especially pleased to present a rare work by German Expressionist, Heinrich Campendonk titled Die Angler (The Fishermen), which comes from the artist’s estate. Campendonk rose to prominence through the Blaue Reiter group, immediately exhibiting a number of paintings in their first Munich show of 1911. The artist was particularly close to Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and the Delauneys, who strongly influenced the development of his style.
Following WWI, and the subsequent deaths of Marc and Macke, Campendonk moved to Seeshaupt in Germany. He became increasingly insular and abandoned oil painting altogether, instead concentrating on prints and woodcuts. He also started to experiment with folk tradition and Primitivism; this interest in folklore and vibrant, simplified shapes can be seen in Die Angler. The biggest transition in Campendonk’s artistic career came in 1920 when he travelled to Italy to study the frescoes of Giotto and Fra Angelico as well as the Early Christian mosaics in Ravenna. Moved by his discoveries in Italy, Campendonk began to use architectonic compositional techniques in his paintings, resembling that of mosaics and stained glass.
In Die Angler, we can see a fusion of these techniques, as Campendonk incorporates the principles of stained glass window designs with folklore storytelling. He utilises a mosaic like compositional technique to depict a group of men caught in the act of fishing by a river. Their elongated forms and harlequin-like appearance create a surreal, other-worldly atmosphere, reminiscent of Campendonk’s early interest in fairytales. However it is the surface of the painting that is especially alluring, as it is refracted into many segments, each a brilliant shade of blue, recalling the quality of stained glass or a mosaic fresco. In this painting, we can also see Campendonk’s appreciation of Kandinsky’s ideas on the colour blue, as it was in 1911 when Campendonk first met the Russian émigré artist that Kandinsky published one of his most important texts: On the Spiritual in Art. In this essay, Kandinsky described blue as the colour of spirituality; the darker the blue, ‘the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him the desire for the pure’. Indeed, the rich tones of blue in this painting combined with the harlequin fishermen evoke a feeling of both the profound and the childlike.
We also have on display an early painting by Rudolf Bauer. The work, titled Furioso 9 is a commanding example of his Non-Objective style, which went on to form the central part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Non-Objective art collection. Bauer was one of the leading figures in the movement of Non-Objective painting, which called for an art which had greater spiritual depth than pure abstract painting. The abstracted objects and lines in Bauer’s work, as seen in Furioso 9, evoke a heightened emotional experience through his deliberate arrangement of shapes; it is the closest visual art comes to live music. Furthermore the implied spiritual element of Non-Objective art also derives from Bauer’s interest in Buddhism, in which the intangible ‘essence’ of the physical world takes precedence over the merely visible.
Throughout his career, Bauer enjoyed an international reputation, with solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York by the 1930’s. Such exhibitions were organised by Solomon R. Guggenheim who became a great friend and admirer of Bauer and ultimately his most significant patron. Tragically, this association with Guggenheim resulted in Bauer being persecuted by the Nazi party. In 1938, he was arrested, imprisoned and classified as a degenerate artist. It was only with the help of Filippo Marinetti (the founder of Futurism), Bauer escaped from Germany and settled in New York.
The gallery will be open from Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm and weekends by appointment. For all enquiries please contact Alison Hill or Diana Kurakina.