Oskar Schlemmer ( * 1888 † 1943 )

Biography of Oskar Schlemmer

The harmonious choreographer

Oskar Schlemmer was born on September 4, 1888 in Stuttgart. He was a painter, sculptor and set designer. Human figures in space, especially in stereometric representation, were among his favorite subjects.

Schlemmer first attended art school, but dropped out after one semester in the fall of 1906 to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. There he met his longtime friend Otto Meyer-Amden, as well as Willie Baumeister and Alf Bayrle. With Meyer-Amden, he attended the master class of Friedrich von Keller's school of composition. Schlemmer then moved to Berlin, where he studied the formal analysis of Cubism and the French Avant-Garde. In 1913 he became a student of master Adolf Hölzel in Stuttgart, where he developed a strong interest in theatrical set design through his friendship with a pair of dancers.

During World War I, Oskar Schlemmer left voluntarily for military service, from which he returned after an injury. He returned to painting and founded the Üecht group, which campaigned for a reform of art education.

In 1920 Schlemmer married Helena Tutein and had three children with her. That same year he was appointed by Walter Gropius to the Bauhaus, where he became first head of the workshop for wall painting, and later of wood and stone sculpture. After the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925, Schlemmer also took over as director of the Bauhausbühne department. During this time, Schlemmer's Bauhaus dances were created, in each of which a specific material and its scenic possibilities were represented (e.g. Pole dance or tire dance). Schlemmer left teaching at the Bauhaus in the summer of 1929.

Schlemmer's style and motivations were varied and the level of abstraction in his works was continually transformed. His depictions were mask-like and, in 1916, he created the work "Homo," which emerged as a basic figure in his later works as well. Inspired by the complex Bauhaus idea, he created his most famous works in 1923. His paintings focused on figurative representation (Tischgesellschaft, 1923) and later drawings of stairs and railings appeared on which figures, arranged in a staggered manner and superimposed on the structure of the railings, connect rhythmically. The railing is viewed psychologically as a support, a purpose of discipline and is considered in contrast to the chaos and decadence omniprsent in the political years of the 1930s. "We need number, measure, and law as weapons and armor, so that we are not swallowed up by chaos," Schlemmer once said. The work Bauhaustreppe (1932) became a symbol of the 20th century youth movement.

With the rise of Hitler in 1933, years of spiritual darkness began for Oskar Schlemmer. His images also became darker and showed his emotional state with dark and ominous scenes. He died at the age of 54 on April 13, 1943 in Baden-Baden.

 

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Art prints and oil reproductions by Oskar Schlemmer

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