Walter Dexel

Oil on cardboard piece, designed by Walter Dexel in 1913, which he titled “ES 71.”

This piece was done with tempera paint and black ink, titled “Bandwerk Open,” and was created later in Walter Dexel’s artistic career. The piece lived in the Kestner-Gesellschaft Hanover exhibition in 1974 to display some of Walter Dexel’s work, until bought for $33,825 by an unidentified buyer. This piece highlights Dexter’s ability to illustrate simple forms in a complex arrangement. This technique was consistent in his work and helped him gain a prominent standing in the Constructivism movement during his career. Although this painting was done in 1965, it is similar to his collection of constructivist paintings created previously in the 1920s. Dexter designed many pieces in the 1920s and pursued his graphic design career until hitting a career-low during the Second World War. It was during this time that he gave up painting and he didn’t start again until the early 1960s. This piece was done when he reemerged as a painter and began working on drafts from the 1920s, which is why they seem similar to previous paintings. Some of his late work, like this one, have two different dates, the time of the sketch and the year of pictorial realization. Similar to many of his other paintings, this timeless piece shows how Dexter stayed away from creating a narrative with his work and instead wanted to create striking compositions. This piece represents a milestone in Dexter’s career because it was created when he picked up painting again after so many years passed by since his last time painting. It is inspirational to think of Dexter’s return to his once beloved practice after being criticized by German Nazis and giving it up for so long. When he returned to painting, he even used some of his old designs to help him start again and I think that it was very courageous of him to do that. I wanted to include this painting because I think it is very simple but also attention-grabbing. He uses very few colors unlike most of his other paintings and sticks to very linear elements. Looking at this painting, I am very curious as to Dexter’s process of creating it and I want to know more about what inspired the piece.

Picture Citation: Ketterer Kunst, Art Auctions, Book Auctions Munich, Hamburg & Berlin, www.kettererkunst.com/result.php.