Schlemmer, Oskar

(1888-1943)
   artist; impossible to link with any medium or style, his geometric images, noted for pure and rational depiction, reflect the functional quality of Bauhaus* art. Born in Stuttgart, he trained as a draftsman for inlaid work. Following a semester at Stuttgart's Kunstgewerbe-schule, he studied randomly from 1906 until the outbreak of World War I at the city's Kunstakademie, passing much of 1910-1912 working in Berlin.* In 1914 he created murals for the entrance hall of Cologne's Werkbund exhibition. An eager enlistee in 1914, he was twice wounded before 1916.
   Returning to Stuttgart's Kunstakademie after the war, Schlemmer was student representative to the Rat geistiger Arbeiter (Council of Intellectual Workers). He campaigned for reform of the curriculum, but was unsuccessful at securing an appointment for Paul Klee.* After he exhibited his work in 1919 at Berlin's Galerie der Sturm (see Walden, Herwarth), he joined the Bauhaus faculty in 1920. Hired to administer the sculpture workshop and teach mural painting, he became director of theater* activities in 1923, the year he completed a series of murals in the stairwell and hallway of the sculpture workshop (the murals were defaced by Nazis in October 1930). He moved with the Bauhaus in 1925 to Dessau and continued to direct the theater until his appointment in 1929 at Breslau's Staatliche Akademie fur Kunst und Kunstgewerbe (State Academy for Art and Applied Art). His departure was likely prompted by Hannes Meyer's determination to politicize the Bauhaus.
   When the Breslau Academy closed in April 1932, Schlemmer secured a po-sition with the Vereinigte Staatschulen fur Kunst (United State Schools for Art) in Berlin but the job lasted only six months. Although his work was increasingly defamed and his ability to earn a livelihood was undermined, he remained in Nazi Germany. Unpolitical, he agonized over the attack on his art: "The horrible thing about this cultural backlash," he wrote, "is that it is not directed against works of a political nature, but against purely artistic, aesthetic works, identified with 'Bolshevism' merely because they are new, unusual, different, original." His art appeared in the 1937 exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art). He died of diabetes in 1943.
   REFERENCES:Barron, "Degenerate Art"; Lehman and Richardson, Oskar Schlemmer; Schlemmer, Letters and Diaries.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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