Schawinsky’s highly original and characteristically interdisciplinary Bauhaus practice spans from paintings to experimental photography, from his performance in the ultra-modern Bauhaus Jazz band to pioneering theatre work with mentor and collaborator Oskar Schlemmer, from exhibition design to commercial graphic and product design.
Due to the growing political threat in Fascist Germany and Italy, Schawinsky emigrated in 1936 to the United States called by Josef Albers to the Black Mountain College. In 1939 Schawinsky moved to New York where he continued collaborations with other prominent Bauhaus members in exile. In the same year numerous works by Schawinsky entered the ground-breaking exhibition Bauhaus: 1919–1928 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated by Walter and Ilse Gropius and Herbert Bayer.
The painting Klassische Architektur II is programmatic for Schawinsky’s passionate commitment to the new architecture of the Bauhaus Dessau as the incarnation of a progressive aesthetic and lifestyle set against the context of Weimar Germany in the 1920s. In Klassische Architektur II the motif of a classical column architecture appears in dramatic perspective in the center of the painting evoking the eighteenth-century temple fragment of the "Seven Pillars" in Dessau, a replica from the Roman Forum, located on the pass-way from the modernist Bauhaus building to the Bauhaus Meisterhäuser, the schoolmasters’ residences.
As ideological counterpart to the old structure, Schawinsky introduced in the left top corner in Klassische Architektur II a detail of the iconic balconies of the "Atelierhaus" (Studio building) of the Bauhaus Dessau. Photographs from his Bauhaus years show Xanti Schawinsky and László Moholy-Nagy daringly balancing on the balconies’ railings. The architectural features of the Bauhaus Dessau were frequently used by the students as a stage for their outer curriculum activities - of which Schawinsky was a central impresario - and for experiments of the theater students, as in the performance “Schlemmerbalconies” photographed by Schawinsky’s friend Lux Feininger.
Xanti Shawinsky presented Klassische Architektur II first in the 1928 exhibition "Junge Bauhausmaler” at the Dessau Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie. The painting was published on the cover of the catalogue. This exhibition showed for the first time that the Bauhaus - beside architecture and design - also originated painting and this genre expressed more than others at the school the free practice of the Bauhaus students. Today, this exhibition is considered a key event of the Bauhaus history and Schawinsky’s Klassische Architektur became an iconic series of Bauhaus art.
After the forced closure of the Bauhaus, Schawinsky arrived at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1936 where he was able to fully unfold his radical Bauhaus theater concept “Spectodrama”. He created teaching collages for his students using his Bauhaus figurines and abstract stage sets from the 1920s for a synthesis with the new era at the Black Mountain. Schawinsky’s dating of the collage Spectodrama - 4 (Color and Form), 1924-36 (following lot), demonstrated his urge to proclaim the continuity of the Bauhaus teaching and message.
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