Alice Neel (1900-1984)
Richard Gibbs, 1964
Alice Neel drew this frontal portrait of the young Richard Gibbs in 1964, over 50 years ago. Nevertheless, it appears timeless. With her signature style, Neel creates a very personal, charming atmosphere in this work. With a gentle smile, Richard Gibbs is looking directly into the eyes of the viewer, as if they were engaged in a conversation. Neel’s characteristic lines bring on a light-and-shade play in his eyes, on the forehead and neck. The young boy’s bended arms, folded into a square, enrich the composition with an unusual, forward-facing motion that creates a particular closeness to the viewer.
This piece, its paper being only slightly faded, has lost nothing of its charm and quality over the years. In the matter of the composition, no other similar work in Neel’s œuvre is known to us.
Grey and brown ink over pencil on laid paper
60 x 52 cm / 23,62 x 20,47 in.
Initialed and dated lower right: "b.12.2.48", lower center: "Romance"
Verso inscribed, upper left,
by Mathilde Q. Beckmann: "Romance 12 Feb. 48"
Provenance: Mathilde Q. Beckmann, New York //
Catherine Viviano, New York // Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York // Garton & Co., London 26.07.1996 //
Richard Feigen Collection, New York
This work will be included in Hedda Finke’s and Stefan von Wiese’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné on Max Beckmann’s drawings
Max Beckmann (1884-1950)
Max Beckmann’s drawing “Romance”, created 1948 in
St Louis, shows unmistakable references to the artist’s biography. In a dream-like setting, three figures emerge against the backdrop of what looks like a fortification wall: two of them are faceless, seen only from the back; next to them is an armoured figure on a horse, seen from the side. The latter one is faced to the right and seems to be riding out of the picture. The standing male figure and next to him the unclothed, half-kneeling female figure are looking through an opening in the wall into the distance. Far away, a crowned pair appears as if on a stage and seems to be waving to the pair behind the wall. The knight figure on the right can be read as the Valkyrie from Wagner’s “The Rhinegold”.
The work certainly presents a reminiscence to Beckmann’s first wife and college friend Minna Tube, who gave up her path as a painter for the sake of her husband and made her name as a singer, particularly in Wagner’s operas. Even after their separation in 1924, she and Beckmann remained friends a lifetime long. An intensive correspondence with Minna, especially enhanced in the late years, confirms the very close relationship.
Due to its anonymous, stage-like setting, the drawing reminds of a theatre play, in which we witness a moment of farewell and a romantic expression of longing. Notably, Beckmann adjusts the upper line of the wall to the uneven edge of the paper. Max Beckmann dated this drawing on the day of his birthday,
the 12th of February 1948.
Willi Baumeister (1889-1955)
In this drawing “Tertiär-Gestalt”, created in the fateful year of 1933, Baumeister commences a subtle play with chromatic tones of charcoal and pencil. At first, the work suggests associations with landscapes and figurative motives. Those, however, immediately get transformed into abstract forms, which only take reference to each other. The material nature of the forms remains undefined. Due to their transparency, they rather oscillate between volume and flatness, light and darkness, massiveness and lightness, emerging and construction.
Baumeister already adopts here that certain mysterious, mythical tone that still is yet to appear in his famous “Eidos” paintings created from 1938 on. This ensures the great importance and rarity of the work within the artist’s œuvre. In 1933, Baumeister was dismissed from his post as a professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt and from then on was classed by the Nazis among the defamed artists.
Pencil, effaced, rubbed, on carton
49,5 x 41 cm / 19,49 x 16,14 in.
Signed and dated lower left: "Baumeister 33";
marked lower right, in circle: "205";
verso: customs seal Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Provenience: Olbricht Collection,
Orangerie Reinz Gallery, Cologne 2001,
Private collection, Rhineland
Catalogue Raisonné Ponert 1988: #466, p. 189
Norbert Kricke (1922-1984)
Kricke's central means is the "line", which he organizes in the drawings as a graphic trace, and in the sculptures by means of steel wires of various thicknesses. Here is where his work begins time and again, and here is where his fundamental rethinking of the sculptural comes in. Since in a way that is different than that to which viewers are accustomed, these lines become independent and in doing so show themselves. ...
We have already mentioned that the tool of the line always also involves a temporal component. One might thus call Kricke a sculptor of dynamic "time spaces". Incidentally, also as a draftsman, since he also found ways to make an imaginary depth visible in the physically "flat" space of a sheet of paper, of providing it with energies, directions, crossings-overs, concentrations, superimpositions, etc. In doing so, a specific aspect of the presentation surface comes to his aid, namely the definitive boundary - which is not found in same way in the continuum of space. Specifically when the lines cross the edge of the sheet, a relationship of tension is produced between the interior of the sheet and the utterly unknown space that surrounds it. On other sheets of paper, he concentrates more intensively on linear configurations that develop within the chosen frame. It has often been said, that Kricke did not create sculptor’s drawings in the classic sense, which as a rule strive to prepare for sculptural interventions with graphic means, to put them into their service. His sheets are much more sovereign parallels whose own logic nevertheless remains connected with the world of sculpture in manifold ways. ...
Excerpt from Gottfried Boehm, Linien des Raumes, Blicke auf Norbert Kricke in: Norbert Kricke – Raum I Linie, Steidel, Stiftung Liner Appenzell 2012
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Untitled (Torso), 1956/57
Already in this remarkable ink drawing from the mid 1950s, Andy Warhol contradicts the social conventions and provokes by directing the gaze at the crotch of a male figure. The genitals are unambiguously visible under the tight trousers. Exposing masculinity in such an obvious way was a no-go at that time, but prominently broken by the Blue-Jeans Generation of the 1950s, as represented by James Dean, Marlon Brando,
and Elvis Presley.
A decade later, Warhol will start to immortalise these style icons in his famous portraits. Later he would also use the crotch motif for the legendary cover of the Rolling Stones’ album “Sticky Fingers” from 1971. This motif, which in this form is unique to Warhol’s drawings, captivates by its elegant lines, finely strung together. Warhol manages to realize this motif without any corrections, reducing it only to the plane and the contour. In this accomplishment, the work reminds stylistically of the drawings by Matisse, whose work Warhol was engaged with at that time. The drawing was once in the collection of Warhol's manager and longtime associate, Fred Hughes.