Gustav Klimt Bio

Gustav Klimt was born on 14 July 1862 in what is now the XIV Vienna district of Baumgarten, the son of a gold engraver. In 1876 he began his studies at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts.

His artistic career was initially influenced by Hans Markart, which was particularly evident in his first commissions for theatre decorations and ceiling paintings.

Klimt soon received awards for his work

Around the turn of the century – Klimt was in the process of creating wall and ceiling decorations for the university – he developed a new, flat-ornamental, decorative style in which naturally reproduced details of the body forms were combined with abstract, colourful, precious, mosaic-like surface patterns. His clients protested decisively and a legal dispute broke out. Finally, in 1905, Klimt was allowed to keep the designs to himself for a refund of his fee.

During the same period he was active in the Vienna Secession, of which he became a founding member in 1897, and of which he was the first president. In 1902 Klimt also made the famous Beethoven Frieze for Josef Maria Olbrich’s Secession building, which can still be seen today in the basement of the building. In 1905, however, Klimt left the Secession with a group of like-minded people because of conflicts with the naturalistic wing of the artists’ association.

Klimt’s motifs are partly provocatively erotic, partly playfully ornamental. He creates impressive portraits, especially of ladies of the Viennese upper class, but also intensively condensed landscapes. As the darling of certain circles of the Viennese society of the outgoing KuK monarchy, he was able to depict the spirit of the feudal bourgeoisie with its striving for aesthetic cultivation and the desire for increased enjoyment of life in the Fin-de-Siècle like hardly anyone else.

Klimt travels a lot

  1. One of his most remarkable works is not to be found in Austria, but in Brussels: he creates the decoration of the dining room in Josef Hoffmann’s Palais Stoclet, a Gesamtkunstwerk of Viennese Art Nouveau.
  2. The artist’s international recognition through numerous exhibitions finally moved conservative spirits to honour him.
  3. Although Klimts professorship was repeatedly rejected, he became an honorary member of the academies in Vienna and Munich in 1917.
  4. On February 6, 1918, Gustav Klimt died after a stroke in his hometown of Vienna.

Who was Paul Klee?

Klee was left-handed, but could paint with both hands. Many of his Bauhaus students were so impressed by his artistic abilities that they dedicated their own works to him.

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Between 1899 and 1906 Paul Klee studied in Munich at Heinrich Knirr’s private school and then at Franz von Stuck’s art academy. In 1910 Klee had his first solo exhibition in Switzerland. In the following years he established contacts to the artists Alfred Kubin and Wassily Kandinsky. During this time he also took part in the second exhibition of the Blaue Reiter. In 1912 he travelled to Paris and met French avant-garde artists such as Robert Delaunay and Henri Le Fauconnier. In 1913 Herwarth Walden’s gallery Der Sturm in Berlin exhibited works by Klee.

First German Autumn Salon in Berlin

He was also represented with works at the First German Autumn Salon in Berlin. In 1914, together with August Macke and Louis Moilliet, he travelled to Tunis and Kairouan. In the same year he co-founded the Neue Münchener Sezession. In 1919 he was signed by the Munich gallery owner Hans Goltz. Also in 1919 Klee became a member of the Council of Fine Artists of Munich and the Action Committee of Revolutionary Artists in Munich. 1920 followed the first large solo exhibition at Galerie Goltz with over 362 works by Klee.

Walter Gropius appointed Klee to the State Bauhaus in Weimar in 1920. In 1921 he became head of the bookbinder’s workshop, in 1922 head of the metal workshop and from 1922/23 to 1925 head of the glass painting workshop. From 1921 to 1924-1925 Klee taught his Elemental Design Theory in the preliminary course in Weimar.

The first Klee exhibition was organized in New York in 1924

In the same year, together with the artists Alexej Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, and Lyonel Feininger, he co-founded the group “The Blue Four. A year later, the Galerie Vavin-Raspail in Paris organized an exhibition of works by Klee for the first time in France. In 1925 Klee’s “Pädagogisches Skizzenbuch” was published as the second volume in the Bauhaus publishing series Bauhausbücher. You can see some of his work at

From 1925 to 1930 he taught his Elemental Design Theory at the Bauhaus Dessau in the preliminary course. From 1926-1927 to 1930 he was head of the lessons in free sculptural and painterly design, from 1927 he was head of the free workshop painting and free painting class. From 1927 to 1929-1930 he taught design theory in weaving. Klee left the Bauhaus on 1.4.1931.

The saint of the inner light

After the end of his teaching activities at the Bauhaus in 1931, he received a professorship at the Düsseldorf Art Academy until 1933. After the National Socialists seized power, he was dismissed without notice. In the same year he returned to Switzerland. The Nazi regime declared Klee’s works degenerate. In 1937 the Berner Kunsthalle organized a retrospective of his oeuvre. Klee died in 1940 after a long illness in Muralto near Locarno.

Which camera setting do I use for landscape photos?

I would like to briefly explain the individual modes of the camera. With most cameras you can choose between the modes M, A, S, P and Auto. Then there are various camera manufacturer-dependent programs, such as Effects, Macro, Night, etc.. There are no limits to the creativity of the manufacturers.

If you are halfway serious with your camera, only the four programs M, A, S and P are of interest. But what do these programs mean? These are briefly explained here.

  • M: Manual mode. Aperture and time have to be adjusted manually.
  • A: Aperture priority. The photographer has to set the aperture and the time is calculated automatically.
  • S: Aperture priority. The photographer sets a desired exposure time and the camera calculates the required aperture.
  • P: Program priority. Time and aperture are set by the camera.

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I use the A mode of the camera for 85% of my everyday shots. I give the camera the aperture and the time is calculated. With this program I can determine for myself how great my depth of field is. This is essential for me when choosing my subject. Time plays a subordinate role. You can also counter time with a higher ISO value. With newer cameras, you can also let the camera’s ISO automatic work with a predefined ISO range for a calmer conscience. Thus one is even more flexible in the choice of the aperture also in darker environments. And should it get too long due to my desired choice of aperture, ISO and the associated exposure time, the camera comes on a tripod.

But when will it be time for a tripod?

There is a good rule of thumb that still holds true, apart from the advantages of image stabilization.
“Focal length equals maximum exposure time”

Consider your chosen focal length and take it as the maximum exposure time for freehand shots. So if you shoot at 50mm, the exposure time should not be longer than 1/50th of a second. At 300mm focal length you should not undercut 1/300 second. And with a wide angle of 15 mm it can be 1/15 second. With this basic rule, which of course is not a binding formula, I have driven very well so far. Of course one knows with the time also his personal limits and his calm hand and can exhaust these values a little bit further. This guideline can also be “extended” with technical aids.

Nevertheless, a tripod should be obligatory for a high-quality landscape photo!

There is a further saying, which offers a solid starting position straight with landscape photos:
“The sun laughs, aperture eight.”

As ridiculous as this sounds, it is a good starting point for normal landscape photos. I don’t want to get into the depth too much, but with aperture 8 and a subject at a slight distance, you will have enough sharpness in the picture due to the “hyperfocal distance” to form a landscape properly. Not to mention that the lenses only show their optimal sharpness in a certain aperture value range.

If you want to take a “normal” landscape photo, you should adjust your camera as follows:

  • ISO: The ISO value should not be too high to get a noise-free image. With me mostly between ISO 100 and 400.
  • Iris: The aperture value should be in the range 8-13. With this you will have enough depth of field in a wide landscape to get a clear picture of everything.
  • Time: The time results from the two previously set values, but should be compatible with the above rule of thumb. In the ideal case the camera is anyway on a tripod and the value becomes irrelevant in this case.

Of course, you can’t take these settings blindly, but they should give you a good clue. Maybe one day a picture of you will be in a museum. Do you have any questions about the settings? Just write me a comment.

Courage for art

Accessories are bestsellers. Real art lends a room more charisma than pure decoration. About the appeal of works of art in your own four walls. You can find a lot of inspiration for your home at

Autumn time is the furnishing time. When it gets uncomfortable outdoors, it should be all the more homely at home. This means that what seemed to be dispensable for well-being during the summer is increasingly finding its way into the home: cushions for the couch and a plaid at the same time, fruit bowls and vases for the table and sideboard. Not to mention all the seasonal nibbles. And when, if not in the dark months of the year, your gaze wanders critically over the walls that have been bare for far too long. Then it’s almost a bit guilty: A mirror should go there, and we also need a picture above the sofa.

The very fast ones shop their wall decorations on the Internet at providers such as My Poster or Posterlounge. Or they access the poster and art print departments of the furniture stores, as if they were walking by, just like they did before with storage cans, candlesticks and bathroom carpets. On the net as in a furniture store, the buyer finds everything that meets the taste of the majority: Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss”, thick & doof motifs, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, zebras and stiletto legions – colourful and photogenically staged.

What does the customer want?

Low-threshold suppliers have positioned themselves between this offer and the galleries, which usually attract only a knowledgeable audience. They are aimed at a group of buyers who would like to have an original, but who still have little expertise. Among the photo galleries, for example, the Lumas chain has made a name for itself. Individual companies such as “Artime”, which was founded two years ago by Robert Spliet from Frankfurt, usually cavort in the field of paintings.

  • Before he opened his gallery, he worked as an interior designer. Now he travels the country every few weeks in search of works by young artists.
  • In the course of time, he has developed a view of what his clientele likes, he says. “People don’t want an investment, but a beautiful picture that suits them and their home,” Spliet describes his clientele.
  • About half of the people who come to his small gallery already have an idea in their minds about what the picture might look like.
  • They have their own idea of color and size, and the question of whether it’s abstract or figurative has already been decided. The other half was naïve. But Spliet observed that even among this clientele, likes and dislikes quickly crystallized.

A work of art must exist in its environment

What makes a “nice picture”? The gallery owner describes it this way in terms of demand: Warm colours are well received. Art in green or blue, on the other hand, doesn’t find buyers so easily. Otherwise, what one person finds pleasantly calm is too boring for the other.

It is important for “Artime” customers to get an object that is unique. Depending on their size, the paintings that Spliet sells cost between 400 and 1000 euros. “But that’s a lot for beginners,” he says. The buyers want the guarantee that it comes from an artist who understands his craft without taking a closer interest in it.

Hedi Probst, whose gallery in Nonnenhorn on Lake Constance bears the addition “Art in Space” in its name, attaches great importance to this. “A work of art is not an exchangeable object, it should last and must exist in its environment,” says the gallery owner. Therefore, she tries to make her clientele aware of what makes up the works on offer, what work and idea lie behind them, and also what artistic personality. “The value is otherwise difficult to recognize,” she knows.

Never just decorative

Suppliers like them are constantly dealing with the phenomenon that art is decoration, but never just decorative. This is also what Karin Srb is up to. The former Escada heir runs the online art trade, which sells photographic art and prints by famous and above all sought-after artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter and Günther Uecker, but also offers the works of some newcomers. Signed and in limited edition.

Art in Italy

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italian art, due to the country’s lack of political unity, was marked by a disunity that favoured the emergence of different artistic languages and local and regional schools. In particular, urban cultures (Florence, Rome, Venice) set the trend in the development of art. Despite all the differences, however, the overarching traditions of the Mediterranean region were preserved. For centuries, Italian art had a decisive influence on all occidental art and culture.

Middle Ages, Pre-Romanesque

Until the 11th century, architecture was characterized by the insistence on Late Antiquity and early Christian traditions, such as the flat-roofed basilica without a transept, with its thin walls, and the Baptisteries, mostly built as central buildings. The first attempts at structuring the space (by means of arcades) were made in Lombardy (core of the Basilica of S. Ambrogio in Milan, 824-859; S. Satiro, Oratory of Ansperto in Milan, 861 to 881). A gradual transition to Romanesque art can be observed from the 11th century to the late Middle Ages. The freestanding bell tower (Campanile in Florence; slate tower of Pisa), vault art, rich structure of front and portal (main works: cathedral in Pisa, San Miniato near Florence, San Ambrogio in Milan) are characteristic for the Italian church building.

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The architecture, although still essentially interspersed with classical elements, was at the same time characterized by several lines of tradition. The cross-domed church of S. Marco in Venice (since 1063), for example, was built under strong Byzantine influence, while the penetration of Byzantine, Islamic and Norman stylistic devices marked the architecture of Tuscany, southern Italy and Sicily. Lombard artists produced the most important Romanesque architectural sculpture (comasks), which was usually integrated into the architectural form in a flat-ornamental manner (Pavia, S. Michele, 1st half of the 12th century). If you are in italy, visit

Takeover of the Gothic period

The French-Gothic architecture received in the 13th century by the Cistercians and later by the mendicant orders of the Franciscans and Dominicans only slowly found its way into architecture, which continued to be oriented towards the continuity of the wall (S. Francesco, Assisi, since 1228), the corporeality of the columns and the emphasis on the horizontal. The vaulted buildings (Arnolfo di Cambio: Florence, Cathedral, 14th century) were characterised by the vastness, clarity and brightness of the rooms. German and French master builders then realised late Gothic style elements at Milan Cathedral; otherwise, however, the Gothic influences remained rather minor.

  • In sculpture, on the other hand, Gothic forms were already taken up in the 12th century (B. Antelamis in Parma Cathedral) without abandoning Romanesque and antique stylistic elements.
  • The monumental sculpture of N. Pisano, later also that of A. di Cambio, was also based on classical and Romanesque models.
  • Other main masters were Fra Guglielmo (San Domenico in Bologna) and especially L. Ghiberti (Doors of the Baptistery) in Florence, who led over to the Renaissance.

The founder of Gothic painting was Giotto di Bondone (frescoes of Assisi), school of Siena and Fra Angelico da Fiesole. Byzantine painting (“maniera greca”) experienced a tremendous upswing around 1300 with the works of Duccio and S. Martini, who worked with Byzantine Gothic influences, Cimabue, who reoriented himself to the early Middle Ages, and Father Cavallini, whose Roman wall paintings revived early Christian traditions. In Giotto’s frescoes (Arena Chapel, Padua, 1305/06), which integrated several stylistic elements, the character of the modern picture of the modern age was revealed, in which reality, bounded by a frame, with monumental figures and a uniform view, revealed itself to the viewer in a realistic way.

Renaissance and Mannerism

The epoch was characterized by the depiction of nature according to scientific rules, in which the aesthetic ideal, modelled on antiquity, was seen in a conscious departure from the “barbaric Middle Ages”.

New Platonism, interpreted from a Christian point of view, was the ideological tool used in architecture to create new sacred buildings. The divine order was to be revealed in the abstract order of numbers and geometric figures (F. Brunelleschi’s Basilica S. Spirito in Florence, 1436 ff.). Lightness and functionality of classical models dominated the Florentine architecture of the early Renaissance. In contrast, the Roman architecture of the High Renaissance (around 1500) was oriented towards the powerful and heroic, which, coupled with rationality, influenced European architecture into the 19th century.

  • Examples of these forms of expression of the High Renaissance are Bramante’s Tempietto (S. Pietro in Montorio, 1502), A. da Sangallos’ Palazzo Farnese in Rome (1541 ff.) and Michelangelo’s sketches for Saint Peter.
  • Mannerist exaggerations in form and architectural logic can also be seen in Michelangelo after 1520 (Biblioteca Laurenziana, Florence, 1530 ff.), but are confronted with classicist answers (A. Palladio’s Villas in Veneto).

In the 15th century, Florentine sculpture, with its freestanding statues oriented towards the ancient image of man, took a different path than the rest of Europe. The spirit of antiquity, reinterpreted, was impressively shown in Donatello’s works (nude statue of Bronze David, Florence, c. 1430; equestrian monument to Gattamelata, Padua, 1447). In the second half of the 15th century, the style of the Florentine Early Renaissance (Ghiberti, the Pollaiuolo brothers, Verrocchio) spread throughout Italy. The unfinished work of Leonardo and Michelangelo documents the search of the Roman High Renaissance for perfection of form. Michelangelo’s David (Florence, 1501) achieved this aesthetic ideal of perfect design, but in his late work it was again relativized in mannerism (Pietà, Florence, Cathedral, 1548-55). Sculptors such as B. Cellini and G. da Bologna turned away from the stylistic means of the Renaissance in the second half of the 16th century and created a mannerist artistic language with expressive forms of representation.

Painting experienced a heyday in the Renaissance, whereby the originally religious panel painting in particular opened up new, profane contents: the portrait by Raphael (“Sistine Madonna”), the landscape by Leonardo, the still life by I. de’ Barbari and Botticelli’s mythologically influenced paintings (“Spring”, “Birth of Venus”). In the linear perspective as a “symbolic form” the way of thinking of the Renaissance, which was committed to rationality and saw man and nature as a harmonious whole in an ideal world oriented towards natural science, became apparent. This attitude becomes particularly clear in the works of Masaccio (Zinsgroschen-Fresko, Brancacci Chapel, Florence, 1427), P. Uccellos, F. Lippis and A. Castagnos. Masaccio and Masolino were the first great masters of the moving act of the early Renaissance. Piero della Francesca and Leonardo’s use of correct colour and air perspectives removed painting from its naturalistic beginnings and breathed atmosphere into it. Light and colour were elevated to the ideal medium, in Venetian painting even to the carrier of visionary representations of Arcadia (Giorgione; Titian’s “Pietà”, 1573-76).

  • In the High Renaissance it was possible for a short time to combine classical ideals with scientific experience into a harmonious order, especially in the works of Raphael, Leonardo and Michelangelo.
  • The expressive elaboration of individual means of representation in Mannerist painting in Titian, Tintoretto, G. Romano and Bronzio showed the first tendencies of the Baroque.
  • The ceiling paintings by Correggio are regarded as the transition from Renaissance to Baroque.


Baroque art, which was created in Rome around 1600, continued the ancient tradition of the High Renaissance. It came about, as it were, as a rejection of Mannerism, whose expressive means of expression were taken up by Baroque art.

The architecture was oriented towards the representative and absolute style of representation (large squares, monuments, magnificent staircases such as the Spanish Staircase in Rome by F. de Sanctis). The building of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, on which Bramante, Michelangelo, Maderno, Borromini and Bernini worked, is a style-historically influential building: The dome (designed by Michelangelo) remained a central moment in the construction of the nave. Characteristic of the architecture of the period were the façades by P. Cortona (S. Maria della Pace, 1656) and Borromini (S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, 1667 ff.): they showed a balance of plastic contrasts between column and pilaster, convex and concave, light and shadow. Brilliant architectural space solutions were created by the Baroque architects Bernini (S. Andrea al Quirinale, 1658 ff.) and Borromini (S. Ivo della Sapienza, 1642 to 50). Turin and Venice, along with Rome, were centres of baroque architecture.

In Roman sculpture, G.L. Bernini succeeded in combining architecture and painting by painterly harmonizing the Baroque contrasts of nature and ideal, gravity and movement. In Rome, painting developed between the poles of lively classicism (A. Caraccis’ ceiling paintings in Palazzo Farnese, 1597-1604) and naturalistic simplicity (Caravaggio, conversion of St. Paul, 1600). Through an increase in spatial illusion and colour fastness, ceiling painting experienced a tremendous boom (Domenichino, Lanfranco, P. da Cortona, Pozzo).

18th and 19th centuries

The classicist tradition determined the architecture in Rome (C. Fontana), with the exception of the Spanish Staircase, which was influenced by the Rococo, which played a modest role in Turin, Vittone and Iuvara.

The genres of veduta, landscape and genre painting (Canaletto, Bellotto, F. Guardi) and the religious altarpiece (Piazzetta) were the main influences in Venetian painting. The most important ceiling paintings of the epoch were painted abroad (Tiepolo, Würzburg Residenz, 1750 to 53). Only the sculptures of A. Canova and the paintings of the Florentine Macchiaioli were outstanding in the fine arts.

20th century

Around 1910 Futurism radically broke with the rigid traditions of the 19th century and developed an aggressive language of art. He demanded in the last consequence the destruction of all old and valid values, which drove some of his representatives (among other things F.T. Marinetti) to fascism Mussolini.

The art during fascism was entirely focused on an officially promoted neoclassicism, which was especially true for architecture, which only developed into modern architecture in the 1950s and 1960s (L. Nervi, Sportpalast, Rome, 1958-60; G. Ponti, Pirelliturm in Milan, 1956-59; G. Michelucci, Autobahnkirche near Florence, 1964).

The border between sculpture and painting between abstraction and construction touched L. after 1945. Minguzzi, P. Consagra and L. Fontana with their works. Symbolist ideas (Pittura metafisica by de Chirico and Morandi among others) and expectations for the future (by the Futurists U. Boccioni, C. Carrà) marked the two poles in painting around 1910.

After 1945, the recourse to Neoclassicism (“Novecento”) and Realism (R. Guttuso) was followed by the opening of Italian art to international styles such as abstraction (A. Corpora, A. Magnelli), Pop and Op-Art, and new Realism (G. Baruchello).

Art & Culture at the Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea with its variety of natural beauties as well as the vastness of the landscape and the sea have fascinated artists, craftsmen and writers since early times.

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Famous, but also many simple artists live in the region and let themselves be inspired daily by new things. Here you will find the peace and relaxation that are so important for your work, whether you spend your holiday in a holiday apartment, a campsite or a hotel. This and above all her skill and skill are reflected in many pictures, texts and other works.

Some artists, who live on lonely farms, abandoned houses or old manors and practise their art, offer the visitors the possibility to visit their works or to try their hand at artistic creation. With its original charm, the Baltic Sea is a unique backdrop for art and cultural events of all kinds. Old buildings and ruins, gigantic cathedrals, castles and romantic parks offer successful scenery for concerts, festivals or theatre performances. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a few of them too.

Exhibitions, museums and numerous lectures tell of the beautiful but often very hard life on the coast. Customs and traditions are still alive and well. Important buildings and monuments bear witness to the unimaginable creative power of the people on the Baltic Sea and tell about its history.

  • The Baltic Sea has always been an intermediary for the exchange of culture and goods between Eastern Europe, Northern Europe and Central Europe.
  • The main ports that have emerged over the centuries are Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Malmö, Stockholm, Kiel, Lübeck, Rostock, Stettin, Gdynia, Gdynia, Königsberg, Riga and St. Petersburg.

Again and again there have been heavy storm surges on the coast, some of which also attack the coastline and especially the islands. Some islands were formed after heavy storm surges. And also today these are still changed by the tides, thus the change between ebb tide and high tide, in their appearance. The people at the Baltic Sea have been shaped by these catastrophes and have great respect for the violence of nature.

Abstract Painting

Since I describe myself as an abstract painter, I find it important to place myself in the overall context of art history. Abstract painting already existed in the archaic style epochs, and it was rediscovered by modernism as a means of expression for the changed world and self-understanding of man in the 20th century. Etymologically speaking, “abstract art/abstract painting” means first of all non-objective, non-objective art.

Abstract painting was practically and theoretically founded by the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), who soon formed two main currents: on the one hand, free painting, which came from Expressionism, was emotionally influenced and later gestural, in which the complete detachment from the representational was strived for and the colour, form, structure and composition came to the fore (Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Hans Hartung); at the same time, however, a rather intellectual, geometrizing abstract art influenced by Cubism also emerged (Michail F. Larionow, Frantisek Kupka, Kasimir Malewitsch, Piet Mondrian), a tendency that later developed into “Post-Painterly Abstraction”: geometric forms without any “personal signature” of the painter. Main representatives are Frank Stella (“What you see is what you see”), Louis Noland, Ellsworth Kelly, Al Held, Jules Olitsky.

Image taken from panoramaposter

What both currents have in common is the overcoming of a reality-based representation and thus its origin in Greek culture (whose tradition is the representation of man, in contrast to Eastern ornamentalism). The artist wants to represent his inner world, the invisible world, thus giving his work a spiritually interested dimension. Only the means of colour, form and line counted, structure and composition come to the fore. Abstract artists like to describe their works as Absolute Art, which, alienated from their cultural roots, opens up an all-embracing freedom.

Abstract Expressionism, Informel, Gesture of Colour

Etymologically speaking, “Expressionism, Expressionist Painting” means first and foremost expressive art: the artist wants to express his feelings and thoughts, undisturbed by representational representation.

Abstract Expressionism was originally the term used in Germany to describe some of the paintings painted by Wassily Kandinsky in the 1920s. It was not until the 1940s and 1950s, however, that he asserted himself in the USA as an Ab-Ex with the New York School artists’ group (William Baziotes, Arshile Gorky, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still), which propagated a new, free form of painting, partly influenced by European artists who had emigrated for political reasons.

In Europe, French Tachism (a spontaneous application of splotches of paint without thoughtful composition principles) and later Informel (or informal art) developed during this period. The latter is a current that demanded a completely “formless art” and categorically rejected geometric forms as well as abstract representation of real objects and any kind of conceived representation at all (Antonio Tàpies, Jean Dubuffet, Wols (Wolfgang Schulze)).

Of course, these currents influenced each other again and again, and there was a lively exchange between America and Europe.

Informal Abstract Expressionism

In Informal Abstract Expressionism, rational concepts are abandoned in favour of spontaneous creative processes and large-scale gestures. The result is an immediate, rapid way of working, sometimes referred to as automatism. The goal is a work that ideally arises without any control by the mind and is thus beyond any aesthetic and moral view.


The term cubism derives from the Latin “cubus”, which means “cube”. Cubism primarily deals with the artistic reduction of an object to geometric figures, such as spheres, cones or pyramids. Cubism developed between 1906 and 1908. Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris are among the most important representatives of Cubism.

Cubism is primarily divided into two styles: analytical and synthetic cubism. Orphism or colour cubism is also known. They are characterized by the fact that on the one hand the sides of the object are subdivided (analytical cubism) and the summary of all sides of an object can be seen in one picture (synthetic cubism). It’s like standing not only in front of the object, but also laterally, behind, above and below it.

Analytical Cubism

In the early days of Cubism, Cubists painted their pictures with only a few and rather pale colours. In their opinion, the forms and figures in the foreground would be lost through a lavish choice of colors. Only later did Cubist artists dare to experiment more with colors. In analytical or early Cubism, created around 1907-1911, it is purely a matter of dismantling the object. Geometric figures are used that fit together to represent the object composed of these figures. Here, as described above, the colors are kept pale in order not to separate the forms too strongly from each other, which together form an object.

The “synthetic” cubism

In synthetic cubism, c. 1912-1924, the object, which was divided into geometrical figures, was assembled to represent different perspectives on one and the same object. The Cubists now also use objects that do not belong together but flow into each other. In this direction the artists dare to add more colours to their pictures.

Synthetic cubism is also associated with the emergence of “collage”. Pablo Picasso glues real objects onto the canvas like sand or wood, mixing them with other elements like charcoal. In this way he creates a plastic view, for the materials emerge plastically from the picture.

Colour Cubism

Colour Cubism (or Orphism, which refers to the ancient singer Orpheus) was coined by the writer Apollinaire and represented above all by Robert Delaunay. It is understood as a higher degree of abstraction in which musicality, round forms, bright colours and even pure colour are expressed. In Orphism the colours are broken, colourful prisms are created which leave a light and musical impression. The colours are represented in a circle, based on the Michel Eugene Chevreul colour system (French chemist, 1786 – 1889).

The followers of colour cubism wanted to contrast pure painting with pure music. Cubofuturism also developed. Cubofuturism is a fusion of futurism and cubism. Characteristic for this style is the decomposition of the object into cylindrical forms. It was developed in Russia before the First World War and led to pure abstraction as can later be seen in Constructivism. Representatives of Cubos futurism are Kasimir Malevich and Ivan Puni, but also Lyubov Sergeyevna Popova.

The Art of the World Exposition

I have a very personal relationship with world expositions. In the late 80s and early 90s of the last century I worked for the project office that organized the German appearance at the 1992 World Exposition in Seville. That was an exciting time and I particularly remember the competition for the architecture of the German pavilion that we held in the then still unrenovated Rolandseck railway station. In 2008 I wrote a book about Art Nouveau in which the theme of the World Exposition was also given a chapter. And now I have here the wonderful catalogue of the Marta Museum, which takes up the theme of the world exhibition once again. The accompanying exhibition runs until February 10, 2019 – in Herford and at the Kunstmuseum Ahlen . Brisante dreams, that’s the title of the exhibition, which announces exciting artistic positions revolving around “the best world exhibition in the world”. I have leafed through the catalogue and indulged in memories.

Drawn on blotting paper and planned by a builder of British greenhouses, the Crystal Palace, in which the first World Exhibition opened its doors in 1851, became a true wonder of the world made of glass and metal. It was an incredible 563 metres long and 124 metres wide. Like an artificial sky, its roof vaulted several exotic trees and a crystal fountain. In its elongated central hall stood the largest mirror in the world. In that glass palace, which lay like a giant colossus in Hyde Park, they presented a fair of inventions and paid homage to technical progress. Of course, the steam engine was not missing in this panopticon either. The first world exhibition became a demonstration of the world power of Great Britain and became a magnet for mass tourism. It became the symbol of a new era and presented the future.

Prince Consort Albert had the vision for the exhibition

It was intended to give “a faithful testimony and a vivid picture of the points of view of development to which all mankind has come in this great work”. From this moment of birth, the World Expositions accompanied the development of society into modernity. They mirrored the possibilities of their time and provided examples of how the world was to be furnished. Of course, the World Exhibition in Paris at the end of the century turned into a kind of super-show. As the French Minister of Commerce announced, the aim was “a summary of the 19th century”. It was intended to highlight the “philosophy” of the century. The central attraction was the “Palace of Electricity”, which attracted thousands of visitors. The whole area of the World’s Fair resembled a sea of lights with colourful plays of light. This is how the future was imagined: bright as day even at night and everything functions automatically.

Art was also a seismograph for political movements

In their editorial, Roland Nächtigäller and Burkhard Leismann explain what the double exhibition is all about. Essential input for the exhibition concept came from the Cologne curator Dr. Thomas Schriefers , who collected an “immense historical fund” of documents on the subject. The exciting thing about it is how many interfaces it offers to take today’s questions and perspectives on the subject. I really like the fact that Marta is always about creating such connections between art and the contemporary world.

I really like the way the catalogue is presented. World exhibitions that have left a lasting impression (there have been over 100 of them to date) provide a chronological order. In terms of content, this is broken down into essays that deal with such fundamental things as “Departure to the Senses” (Montreal), but also deal with individual aspects such as the pavilion that Salvador Dali created for the 19039/40 World Exposition in New York. In addition, there are contemporary artistic positions that, for example, play on the significance of the pavilion as “temporary architecture”. Rob Voerman’s objects show such an approach. His sculptures decline through what this architectural approach can structurally mean.

The fact that there is a lot of exciting and surprising source material in the catalogue makes browsing through it such a lot of fun. It is less an exhibition companion than a book that can be seen as an extension of the presentation on site. With a layout that is fun and guides you through the various world exhibitions.

Balthus – the artist, his work, provocation

The exhibition “Balthus” can be seen at the Fondation Beyeler. I saw some of his works in Cologne in 2007 and maybe I’ll even be able to visit the show in Basel. I still have time until January 1, 2019. I read the catalogue, which was kindly sent to me by the Fondation Beyeler, with great interest. A nice occasion to take a closer look at the artist and his reception.


I had to laugh a little when I read somewhere that he was an exceptional phenomenon also because he reached the 21st century as a master of classical modernism. Balthus died in 2001 and somehow it suits him that this dimension of time is mentioned. But of course you have to remember this artist because there are many other things to know about him. And by that I don’t mean the scandals that his paintings also caused. The discussion about how to deal with it overshadows the reception of his works considerably. Rightly? Below I have dedicated a section to this topic. But who else was this Balthus?

Born in 1908, Balthasar Klossowski de Rola was the son of a Polish aristocrat and a Jewish-German artist who grew up in an intellectual home. The parents’ marriage failed and their mother teamed up with Rainer Maria Rilke. There the young Balthasar was eleven years old. Through the influence of the poet, who also invented the artist’s name Balthus, the young artist achieved his first successes, and he never really contradicted the rumours that Rilke was his biological father. Apparently he liked to create a certain mysterious aura around himself. This also included the emphasis that his birthday, 29 February, had taken him out of the ordinary course of time. In general, the aspect of time seems to have played an important role for him. In his paintings, too, it seems that it has stopped for a moment.

There are some remarkable anecdotes in the artist’s life. For example, I was touched by the love story with his first wife – Antoinette de Watteville – who only gave in to his wooing when Balthus had some initial successes. Later he even became director of the Villa Medici in Rome. And he had contact to many music greats. Bowie was a fan – the Thin White Duke could also have come from a Balthus painting. Mick Jagger and other pop stars visited the painter in his Swiss domicile, a former hotel.

Balthus, the king of cats – also a mysterious story based on an early experience. Mitsou was the name of the stray cat that had run to the young Balthasar and soon disappeared again. Balthus translated this experience into numerous drawings – a first success as an artist followed.

His work

It is the time of the New Objectivity, into which works by Balthus fit optically at any rate quite well. Also his enthusiasm for Piero della Francesca’s painting is not something completely absurd in the art of those years. One recalls, for example, Otto Dix, who loved the fine painting of Lucas Cranach and adapted it for his art. They were all looking for something new, and sometimes they would insure themselves of the old in order to achieve something of their own.

The connection to the subconscious, the proximity to Freud’s sexual drive – there is enough overlap with the surrealist tendencies in Balthus’ work. “I make surrealism à la Courbet,” he described it. In other words, there is less magic than much more realism in his painting. You can feel his proximity to the theatre in the structure of many of his works. In the 30s and 40s he created stage sets and some of this aesthetic can also be felt in his paintings. Especially with works like “Passage du Copmmerce-Saint-André” one discovers a lot of it. This work is also one of my favourite paintings by Balthus. It has a very special charisma, the figures seem to be captured in a special moment. As if they were waiting for salvation. Each of them with a special secret that has to be deciphered. Wim Wenders spoke very beautifully about the picture in this video.

At this point I’d like to point out that I don’t want to depict art in this blog post because I find the effort too great to delete it from the post afterwards.

It is also interesting to note that Balthus greatly appreciated Struwwelpeter. This subliminal cruelty and danger in the stories there – a little of it also appears in his pictures. Especially what could happen out of boredom is waiting! There one remembers Alice, who falls into the rabbit hole out of pure boredom. Balthus also talks about the dreamlike passing of the secret things in his pictures.

The provocation

Picked up time. With this title the Museum Ludwig showed a show of 25 of his works in 2007. I remember how we talked to our colleagues about “Thérèse, dreaming”. The voices were – as they are today – very controversial. I was very aware of the problem, because of course the young model is depicted here in a pose that has a very clear connotation with sexual fantasies.

The picture in which Thérèse Blanchard presents herself to the viewer on a chair is also shown in Basel. One sees the panties of the eleven-year-olds and suspects the breasts under the thin blouse. In front of her, on the floor, a cat slurps milk from a plate. Thérèse was painted several times by Balthus, she lived next to his studio and was probably relaxed enough to be painted by him. With this and similar paintings, Balthus deliberately wanted to provoke and break taboos in order to draw attention to himself. But he was also interested in this strange period between childhood and adulthood. As an artist, he is not alone in this. Already in the 19th century there was a great fascination for the aesthetics of adolescents. Last but not least, Lewis Carroll is one of the most famous representatives with his Alice. For the artists of the avant-garde of the 20th century, proximity to their underage models was a matter of course. From today’s point of view this is certainly very problematic!