Oskar Schlemmer ( * 1888 † 1943 )

Biography of Oskar Schlemmer

The choreographer of harmonious arts

Oskar Schlemmer was born on September 4, 1888 in Stuttgart. He was a painter, sculptor and stage designer. He liked to depict human figures in space, especially in stereometric representation and interlocking groups of figures.

Schlemmer initially attended the school of arts and crafts, which he left after one semester to study at the Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts in the autumn of 1906. There he met his lifelong friend Otto Meyer-Amden as well as Willie Baumeister and Alf Bayrle. With Meyer-Amden he then attended the master class of Friedrich von Keller's composition school. Schlemmer then moved to Berlin, where he studied the formal analysis of Cubism and the French avant-garde. In 1913 he became a master student of Adolf Hölzel in Stuttgart, where he developed his love for stage design through a pair of dancers he had befriended.

In World War I Oskar Schlemmer volunteered for military service, from which he was freed again after an injury. He devoted himself again to painting and founded the Ücht group, which advocated a reform of art education and a vocation of Paul Klee to Stuttgart.  

In 1920 Schlemmer married Helena Tutein and had three children with her. In the same year he was appointed by Walter Gropius to the Bauhaus, where he took over the management of the workshop for mural painting, before he later switched to wood and stone sculpture (form master). After the Bauhaus had moved to Dessau in 1925, Schlemmer also took over the Bauhaus stage department as director. During this time Schlemmer's Bauhaus dances were created, in each of which a certain material and its scenic possibilities were presented (e.g., pole dance or tire dance). Schlemmer established the subject "Man" and took on many teaching assignments at the Bauhaus until he left it in the summer of 1929. Schlemmer's style and motifs were varied and the degree of abstraction of his works changed again and again. In 1916 he created the painting "Homo", which appeared again and again in his works as a basic figure in the side profile. Inspired by the complex Bauhaus idea, Schlemmer's most famous works were created in 1923. Freed from accessories, his pictures concentrated on figurative representation and the back view known for Schlemmer appeared for the first time (Tischgesellschaft, 1923). The first staircase and railing motifs were created in 1931 (group on railing), on which figures connect rhythmically with the structure of the railing in a grid, staggered and superimposed manner. From a psychological point of view, the railing is also regarded as a support and order giver, the purpose of discipline, and as a contrast to chaos and decay in the political years of the 1930s were omnipresent. "We need number, measure and law as armament and armament in order not to be devoured by chaos," Schlemmer once said. The work Bauhaustreppe (1932) became the landmark of the youth cult movement of the 20th century.

With Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, Oskar Schlemmer's years of spiritual darkening began. His pictures also became darker and showed his mental state with threatening scenes. He died at the age of 54 on April 13, 1943 in Baden-Baden.

Art prints and oil reproductions by Oskar Schlemmer

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