Vier Badende (Stehende und liegende weibliche Akte, Badende, Vier lebensgroße Akte auf der Wiese), Um 1910.
Glue-bound distemper on burlap
€ 300,000 / $ 348,000
€ 350,000 / $ 406.000 (incl. 25% surcharge)
Vier Badende (Stehende und liegende weibliche Akte, Badende, Vier lebensgroße Akte auf der Wiese). Um 1910. Glue-bound distemper on burlap, doubled. von Lüttichau/Pirsig 71. Upper right monogrammed. 90 x 69.8 cm (35.4 x 27.4 in). The overall composition as well as the silhouette of the nudes clearly shows parallels to the famous painting "Das Urteil des Paris/ Vier lebensgroße Akte auf der Wiese" (1913), today in possession of the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (cf. von Lüttichau/Pirsig 103) . Fine early, almost experimental work on the typical coarse ground. Otto Mueller's pictures with several nude figures count among his most sought-after works on the international auction market.
PROVENANCE: Galerie Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin. Elfriede Bührmann, Soest (passive member of the Brücke; acquired from Galerie Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin in 1914, after she had met the artist). Julius Knop, Dortmund-Lücklenberg. Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, Roman Norbert Ketterer, auction 36, 3rd and 4th May 1961, cat. no. 318 with color plate on p. 79. Dr. Gertrud Arntz-Winter, Haag (until 1968). Galerie Wilhelm Grosshennig, Düsseldorf. Private ownership. Private ownership (1986-1997). Villa Grisebach Auctions, auction no. 59, selected works, 28 November 1997, cat. no. 33 with illu. Private collection Southern Germany (acquired in aforementioned auction).
EXHIBITION: Exhibition of graphic works from artist of the New Secession, Kunstsalon Maximilian Macht, Berlin 1910. Galerie Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin 1914. Otto Mueller, Kunstblätter der Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin 1964, p. 26, cat. no. 19 with illu.
LITERATURE: Lothar Günther Buchheim, Otto Mueller. Leben und Werk, Feldafing 1963, color illu. on p. 17 (with the title "Badende"). Mario Andreas von Lüttichau, Otto Mueller, Cologne 1993, p. 138 wih illu.
Otto Mueller‘s artistic progressiveness is well-documented for the year 1910. Following his relocation to Berlin the young artist unavailingly tried to join the established group of artists of the Berlin Secession in 1908. After the jury had refused him and other expressionist artist admittance, they decided to found the New Secession with Max Pechstein as president. Mueller came in contact with members of the "Brücke" and remained part of the important expressionist artist group from 1910 until its breakup in 1913. Otto Mueller, whose oeuvre is characterized by an ideal of man free from the restraints of civilization, added an entirely new level of significance to the landscape nude through his very own interpretation. Even though he was assigned to the expressionists, Otto Mueller pursued a goal in his works that he did not share with his contemporaries. The latent bucolic atmosphere that characterizes his paintings, is the core idea of his approach to an idea of man. His figures emanate a pure and calm inertia, a closeness to nature that one can‘ t find in the most important works of his contemporaries. The technical innovation of painting in glue-bound distemper on coarse burlap was in line with the quest for nativeness, accordingly, it is this very impression of the unfinished that makes Mueller‘s artistic creation in general and this dreamy illustration of the "Vier Badenen" (Four Bathers) in particular so unique. It is a very special document of how Mueller distanced himself from the established tendencies in art of his days and how he performed his very own ‘Dawn of Modernism‘. Even though the composition and the pastel colors show certain parallels to his impressionist precursors at first sight, Mueller emancipated himself not only through the "coarse" execution but also through his unique color scheme: Mueller puts landscape and figures onto the rough canvas with the same palette, creating a composition that is lost in reverie, its accentuation entirely put on the bodies‘ dark contour and the black hair. In order to underline their significance, Otto Mueller intentionally placed the figures in this work in an imaginarylandscape.He reduces his nude compositionsto the simple and natural aspects. His figures are well-aware of their physicality and their absolutely certain existence. They embody an unrestrained idyl beyond reach amidst a hectic and ever changing urban world of unfulfilled desires.