- Heinrich Campendonk
- Komposition mit zwei kuhen (composition with two cows)
- Gouache and watercolor on paper
- 17 by 21 1/4 in.
- 43.2 by 54 cm
Estate of the artist
Norbert Ketterer, Stuttgart (until 1959)
Galerie Grosshennig, Düsseldorf (1960)
Acquired from the above on June 15, 1960
Campendonk completed Komposition mit zwei Kühen while living in Sindelsdorf, a small town near Murnau in Upper Bavaria. The artist moved there in 1911 at the invitation of fellow painters Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky, and, later that year, these men formed the artistic group known as Der Blaue Reiter. Including such artists as Gabriele Münter and August Macke, the members of Der Blaue Reiter were among the leaders of the avant-garde in Europe during years before the Great War, and contributed to the style of painting known as German Expressionism. Although the influence of the Fauvists and the Futurists is evident in their work, these artists prided themselves on the originality of each member's individivual aesthetic and encouraged each other to paint freely and without the restrictions of unifying stylistic principles. The present picture, completed around 1913 at the height of Der Blaue Reiter's international success, is a fine example of Campendonk's unique approach.
This work is from Campendonk's series of highly geometric depictions of farm animals, a theme which was also favored by Franz Marc. Marc often acted as a mentor to Campendonk during their time together in Sindelsdorf, and both artists were fascinated by mystical depictions of the natural world and were inspired by their rural surroundings. But unlike Marc, Campendonk renders his subject with overlapping, transparent colors, using a luminous palette and application of color that is not unlike that of the Orphists and the Fauves. Guided by Der Blaue Reiter's unwavering belief in stylistic individuality, Campendonk here incorporates the influences of his contemporaries in order to achieve, "pictures [that] have a beauty of their own, full of fairy-tale lyricism" (Wolf-Dieter Dube, Expressionism, New York, 1972, p. 153).