Walter Dexel

Oil on canvas painting titled “Sailing Ship,” designed in 1923 by Walter Dexel.

This oil on canvas painting by Walter Dexel, titled “Sailing Ship,” was ideated early in Dexel’s career when he was under the influence of the Constructivism movement. The piece was sold for nearly $40,000 to some unknown buyer years after being produced. Originally created just for pleasure by Dexter, this painting lived in many different exhibitions, galleries, and museums, like the Sturm exhibition by Herwarth Walden, the Gallery Meißner in Hamburg and the Municipal Art Museum Bonn. The piece reflects the methods and techniques of other Constructivist during his time, who all created abstracted structural forms in their art by combining assorted objects and simple shapes. Dexter has a collection of pieces of constructivist glass paintings based on real models and figures that he used in order to translate their details into geometric forms. Dexter’s collection of glass paintings totaled around 63 paintings, and this was the 23rd one that he painted in the series. He originally titled and inscribed the piece “after glass painting 23 – 63 painted.” This painting reveals a technique that Dexter commonly practiced which was using strong color values to further abstract the former context. I selected this project for inclusion in Dexter’s portfolio because he was a huge promoter of Constructivism in his paintings, typography, advertising, book design, and stage design and this piece is one that definitely portrays that part of his art life. I also chose to include this painting because I enjoyed the style of it and the bright colors that Dexel used. He treats the subject and the background in the same stylistic way, making it almost an illusion to the eye or a puzzle to figure out. Dexel applied the characteristics of new design during the time which the Ketterer Kunst art website describes as depicting “simplicity, clarity, determination, and logic.” The style of this painting prevents Dexter from trying to narrate a story with his art and instead allows him to stylistically define the subject at hand. The use of simple shapes brought together to portray a sailboat with unexpected colors drew me to this piece and it happened to be a famous piece of Dexel’s.

Picture Citation: Ketterer Kunst, Art Auctions, Book Auctions Munich, Hamburg & Berlin,