Lot 5
  • 5

Xanti Schawinsky

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Xanti Schawinsky
  • Klassische Architektur II
  • signed and dated 1927
  • tempera and airbrush on card laid down on card
  • 50.8 by 36 cm. 20 by 14 1/8 in.


The Estate of Xanti Schawinsky, Switzerland


Dessau, Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie, Junge Bauhausmaler, 1928, illustrated on the cover
Dessau, Bauhaus; Høvikodden, Henie Onstadt Kunstsenter; Seoul, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Mensch-Raum-Maschine. Bühnenexperimente am Bauhaus, December 2013 - January 2015
Zurich, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Xanti Schawinsky, February - May 2015, p. 51, illustrated in colour
Magdeburg, Kunstmuseum Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen, Xanti Schawinksy - Vom Bauhaus in die Welt (From Bauhaus into the World), June - September 2016


Exh. Cat., Berlin, Bauhaus-Archiv, Xanti Schawinksy: Malerei, Bühne, Grafikdesign, Fotografie, March - May 1986, p. 190, illustrated
Exh. Cat., New York, BROADWAY 1602, Xanti Schawinsky, September - December 2014, n.p., illustrated in colour


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is slightly deeper and richer in the original. Condition: This work is in good condition. The work is hinged verso to the mount in the upper two corners. There is an artist's pinhole in the lower left and right corners. Close inspection reveals some light wear with associated rubmarks along the edges. There are some light surface scratches with associated paint loss and light media accretions in places throughout the composition. There are further signs of light discolouration in places consistent with age as well some light discolouration along the upper edge, most likely due to previous mounting. There is a short tear of ca. 2 cm. in the upper right corner. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultraviolet light.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Born to a Jewish family of Polish decent in Switzerland, Alexander “Xanti” Schawinsky joined the Bauhaus in 1924. He was soon to become one of the most protean characters at the famed school. He initiated and inspired many activities at the Bauhaus with a verve that revealed him as a true performer, a modernist dandy and a Bauhaus protagonist par excellence. As such, the reintroduction of Schawinsky’s oeuvre is one of the most exciting events of recent years for the Bauhaus legacy. 

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.