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Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Menschenpaar (Couple)

1917

$4,000

About

An original woodcut engraving on cream wove paper by German artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) titled "Menschenpaar (Couple)", 1917. Issued unsigned. Limited edition: 110. Comes from "Das Kunstblatt (The Art Paper)" portfolio, Vol. 2, No. 2 of February, 1918. Printer unknown and published by Verlag Gustav Kiepenheuer, Weimar, Germany in 1918. Printer of text: A. Wohlfeld, Magdeburg, Germany. Provenance: private collection - Berlin, Germany. Reference: Schapire 199; Söhn 31702; Rifkind 2556. There is an example of this very same work within the permanent collection of the MoMA, New York, NY. Sheet size: 11" x 8.13". Image size: 8" x 5.88". A strong impression in excellent condition. Very rare. Published monthly for sixteen years, Das Kunstblatt promoted the work of living artists and the spirit of the "new art" in all its forms, eventually covering art, theater, film, literature, and architecture. The title is an antiquated word for print that, more generally, translates as "art paper." Das Kunstblatt reflected the discerning taste of its founder and editor, Paul Westheim. In an opening salvo, Westheim explained that the true artist went beyond creating pretty, lifelike surfaces to probe "the depths of being." He named Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde, Ernst Barlach, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Oskar Kokoschka, Erich Heckel, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner as exemplars of this modern ideal. Later, Das Kunstblatt provided equally impassioned support of sharply critical artists such as Otto Dix, George Grosz, and other practitioners of Neue Sachlichkeit. Leading novelists, playwrights, curators, and critics also contributed to the journal, including Bertolt Brecht, Theodor Däubler, Alfred Döblin, Carl Einstein, Gustav Hartlaub, and Franz Roh. From the beginning, Das Kunstblatt was international in scope, featuring works that satisfied Westheim's definitions of modern art no matter the source. Most issues included an original print (two in the deluxe edition). The publication also brought together art historical essays on African, Indian, and Asian art—a cosmopolitan style that provoked condemnation by the Nazis. The last issue appeared in March 1933, and that summer Westheim fled Germany. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (born December 1, 1884, Rottluff, near Chemnitz, Germany—died August 9, 1976, West Berlin [now Berlin]), German painter and printmaker who was noted for his Expressionist landscapes and nudes. In 1905 Schmidt-Rottluff began to study architecture in Dresden, Germany, where he and his friend Erich Heckel met Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Fritz Bleyl, two other architecture students who shared their passion for painting. Together they formed the organization of Expressionist artists known as Die Brücke (“The Bridge”), united by the goal of creating a modern, intensely emotional style. The artists of Die Brücke typically preferred to portray scenes of urban life, but Schmidt-Rottluff is particularly known for his rural landscapes. He initially painted in an Impressionist style, but his painting Windy Day (1907) shows the artist’s transition to his mature style, which is characterized by flat areas of boldly dissonant colours. A representative example of this mature work is Self-Portrait with Monocle (1910). Like the other Brücke artists, Schmidt-Rottluff had also begun to explore the expressive potential of the woodcut medium. In 1911 Schmidt-Rottluff, with his fellow Die Brücke members, moved to Berlin, where he painted works with more angular, geometric forms and distorted space, revealing his new interest in Cubism and African sculpture. After World War I Schmidt-Rottluff became increasingly interested in religious themes, as seen in the woodcut Head of Christ (1918), which is one of a series of prints about the life of Christ. During the 1920s Schmidt-Rottluff’s work became more subdued and harmonious, losing much of its former vigour and integrity. When the Nazis gained power in Germany, he was forbidden to paint. After World War II he taught art and resumed painting, although he never regained the power of his early works.

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