With works by Willi Baumeister, K. O. Götz, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Emil Schumacher, K. R. H. Sonderborg, WOLS

Opening – 26 APR 2024, 6-9 pm

The artists that we bring together in our Gallery Weekend exhibition ABSTRAKTION are key figures of the European post-war avant-garde. All of them were extensively represented in the landmark exhibitions of the 1950/60s – the Venice Biennale and Documenta. In their artistic conception they took up developments in painting that had led to an abstract pictorial language in the period between the wars. In particular, the painters Willi Baumeister (1889-1955), Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968) and WOLS (1913-1951) were important sources of inspiration for the upcoming younger generation. With an emphasis on the creative act, the expressive handling of colour and material were put at the centre of the artistic expression. Two main representatives of German Informel, K.O. Götz (1914–2017) und K.R.H. Sonderborg (1923–2008), sought to capture the spontaneous gesture on the canvas, often monumental in dimensions. On the other hand, the Informel artist Emil Schumacher (1912–1999) was more concerned with the breaking up of the picture’s surface thus putting a focus on the materiality of the paint itself with its layerings and superposition of pigments.

Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902–1928)
Element Blau/Element blue, 1963
Oil on canvas, 200 x 140 cm
sign. a. dat. bottom right: Nay 63

Courtesy: Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner
Photo: Gallery
© 2024 VG Bild Kunst, Bonn

“It is worth a whole life time to advance so far that a real colour painting can emerge and the colour resonate in such a way that, without the artist having specifically intended it, something human becomes visible – something human and creaturely – in a new, unknown formulation.”

W. Nay 1967, in: Nay 1964, Katalog Aurel Scheibler, Berlin 2016, p. 5.

“You have to act quickly and with efficiency, no regrets (…). However, to achieve this, you have to have lived a very intense life. For the gradually accumulated energy is then released in the act of painting. (…) One must never go back, never correct.”

R. H. Sonderborg, in: K.O. Götz / Sonderborg, Faltblatt zur Ausstellung Kabinett 2, Bremen 1976.

  1. O. Götz (1914–2017)

SYKSI, 1965
Mixed media on canvas, 175 x 145 cm
sign. bottom left: K. O. Götz

Courtesy: K. O. Götz und Rissa-Stiftung and Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner
© 2024 Archiv K. O. Götz und Rissa-Stiftung / VG Bild Kunst, Bonn

Covering the period 1935–1965 our exhibition retraces how conceptional concerns such as structure, space and materiality were dealt with in this ground-breaking phase in art history. On display are major works by pioneer Willi Baumeister such as “Figur in Bewegung” (1936/37) or “Blaue Mauer” (1952). The quite unique “chromatic constructivism” of E.W Nay is present with important pieces of the so-called disk pictures and eye pictures. “Kiva” (1962) and “Syksy” (1965) by K.O. Götz and “3.11.1959” by K.R.H. Sonderborg represent the gestural expressions of their times. Whereas more confidential compositions executed by WOLS and Emil Schumacher complete the show.

K. R. H. Sonderborg (1923–2008)
3.11.1959 18.38–19.07 Uhr, 1959
Egg tempera on cardboard, 108 x 70 cm
sign. a. dat. bottom right: Sonderborg 59

Courtesy: Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner
Photo: Gallery


“I write my pictures quickly after intensive meditation (…) The faster the handwriting, the less control I have over my writing, the more anonymous things emerge and become fixed in the picture scheme.”

K. O. Götz, in: blätter + bilder, Heft 5 Würzburg/Wien, 1959.