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Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Kleine Prophetin (Little Prophetess)

1919

$2,000

About

An original woodcut engraving on watermarked wove paper by German artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) titled "Kleine Prophetin (Little Prophetess)", 1919. Comes from "Das Graphische Jahrbuch (The Print Yearbook)" portfolio. Printer unknown and published by Verlag Karl Lang, Darmstadt, Germany in 1920. Issued unsigned. Limited edition: approx. 600. Large watermark of a cross and a lion or bear lower right. Provenance: private collection - Kiel, Germany. Reference: Schapire 253; Davis-Rifkind 2565. There is an example of this very same work within the permanent collection of the MoMA, New York, NY. Sheet size: 8.25" x 6.5". Image size: 7.13" x 4.75". Two soft creases lower left and some light toning at margins consistent with age. In otherwise very good condition. Rare. The first and only volume of Das graphische Jahrbuch (The print yearbook), published by Karl Lang Verlag, presented an idiosyncratic selection of postwar German printmakers chosen by its editor, Hans Theodor Joel, who believed in the revolutionary potential of art to transform society. Rather than offering a comprehensive overview—and although it included short essays on major Expressionists ranging from Max Beckmann, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and Oskar Kokoschka—Das graphische Jahrbuch primarily highlighted younger artists who were not well known, including now mostly forgotten figures such as Otto Gleichmann, Walter Gramatté, and Richard Seewald. Contributors included critics and art historians such as Julius Meier-Graefe, Rosa Schapire, Gustav Schiefler, and Paul Westheim. The book featured three original prints: one woodcut by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and another by Gottfried Graf and a lithograph by Walter Ruttmann. The rest of the images were reproductions, which helped make the book affordable. After the collapse of the communist government in Munich in 1919, Karl Lang Verlag had moved its operations to Darmstadt, where Joel edited this collection as well as other periodicals and portfolios of Expressionist prints, and in addition published original prints through his own Verlag für Neue Graphik. 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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