Willi Baumeister / Ernst Wilhelm Nay / Wols
Emil Schumacher / K. R. H. Sonderborg / K. O. Götz

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. As Sonderborg stated: »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.«
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. 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 »SYKSI« (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.

Exhibition in Berlin: April 26, to June 22, 2024