Lot 104
  • 104

OSKAR SCHLEMMER | Hellgraue Gruppe (Light Grey Group)

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Oskar Schlemmer
  • Hellgraue Gruppe (Light Grey Group)
  • signed Oskar Schlemmer and with the artist's stamp on the verso
  • pencil and oil on paper
  • 64.8 by 49.2cm., 25 1/2 by 19 1/8 in.
  • Executed in 1936.


Galerie Inge Ahlers, Mannheim (by 1957)
Karl Ströher, Darmstadt (acquired in 1957)
Dr. Erika Pohl-Ströher, Switzerland (by descent from the above in 1977)
Thence by descent to the present owner in 2016


Berlin, Galerie Ferdinand Möller, Gustav Hagemann, Otto Herbig, Oskar Schlemmer, 1937, no. 48
Stuttgart, Galerie Dr. F.C. Valentien, Gabriele Münter und Oskar Schlemmer, 1937, no. 8
London, London Gallery, Oskar Schlemmer, Paintings and Drawings, 1937, no. 24
London, New Burlington Galleries, Modern German Art, 1938, no. 126
Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Oskar Schlemmer, Gedächtnisausstellung zum 10jährigen Todestag, 1953, no. 126
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Oskar Schlemmer, Ausstellung zum Gedächtnis an seinen 10. Todestag, 1953, no. 112
Hanover, Kerstner-Gesellschaft; Wuppertal, Von der Heydt-Museum & Hagen, Karl-Ernst-Osthaus Museum, Oskar Schlemmer, Gedächtnisausstellung, 1953-54, no. 51
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Oskar Schlemmer, 1954-55, no. 50
Wolfsburg, Stadthalle/Volkswagenwerk, Deutsche Malerei, Ausgewählte Meister seit C.D. Friedrich, 1956, no. 143, illustrated in the catalogue
Cologne, Galerie Aenne Abels, Schlemmer, Gemälde, Aquarelle, 1957, no. 16
Mannheim, Galerie Inge Ahlers, Oskar Schlemmer, Gemälde, Aquarelle, Grafik, 1957, no. 13
Bern, Kunsthalle, Oskar Schlemmer, 1959, no. 74
Wiesbaden, Nassauischer Kunstverein, Aus der Sammlung Ströher, 1963, no. 58
Berlin, Akademie der Künste, 13. Ausstellung, Deutscher Künstlerbund von der Gründung 1904 bis zum Verbot 1936, 1964, no. 149, illustrated in the catalogue
Kassel, Museum Fridericianum, Documenta III, 1964, no. 2, illustrated in the catalogue
Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Die Sammlung Karl Ströher, 2, 1965-66, no. 132, illustrated in the catalogue
Mannheim, Mannheimer Kunstverein, Oskar Schlemmer, Gemälde von 1909 bis 1942, 1967, no. 35, illustrated in the catalogue
Munich, Galerie-Verein Neue Pinakothek im Haus der Kunst, Hamburg, Kunstverein & Berlin, Nationalgalerie and Kunstverein, Sammlung Karl Ströher, 1968-69, no. 118


Hans Hildebrandt, Oskar Schlemmer, Munich, 1952, no. 294
Bildnerische Ausdrucksformen, Sammlung Karl Ströher
(exhibition catalogue), Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, 1970, n. n. illustrated p. 172
Karin von Maur, Oskar Schlemmer, Œuvrekatalog der Gemälde, Aquarelle, Pastelle und Plastiken, Munich, 1979, no. G320, illustrated p. 120
Erika Pohl, Ursula Ströher and Gerhard Pohl (ed.), Karl Ströher, Sammler und Sammlung, Stuttgart, 1982, no. 520, illustrated p. 204

Catalogue Note

Hellgraue Gruppe (light grey group), executed in 1936, is an extraordinarily refined composition of four figures. Seemingly frozen in time, the predominant figure on the right leans inwards with her arm outstretched, the woman below mysteriously covers her eyes with her arm, the figure in the middle stands straight with her back to the viewer and another figure enters the picture plane from the upper left corner. Between 1925 and early 1928, Schlemmer had concentrated almost entirely on work for the theatre, and on his extensive duties as the master in charge of the theatre department at the Bauhaus, but in February 1928, he wrote in his diary that 'ideas for pictures [… (were)… ] finally flowing' (Oskar Schlemmer, diary entry, 4 February 1928, in Tut Schlemmer, ed., The Diaries and Letters of Oskar Schlemmer, Evanston, Illinois, 1972, p. 224). Deciding to therefore focus on one principal theme at a time, he was resolved to master his ethos of painting in which simplified forms of the human body are conjoined into a meditative and harmonious union. The present work conjures a sense of existential mystery between the figures and exudes a strange empty space surrounding them which is both light and dark. The artist’s experience of stage design, ballet and choreography led him to discover that the 'human figure, plucked out of the mass and placed in the separate realm of the stage (or the empty plane of the picture) is surrounded by an aura of magic and thus becomes a space-bewitched being' (Oskar Schlemmer, ‘Formale Elemente der Bühne’, p. 14. Manuscript of a lecture given on 4th March 1933, Oskar Schlemmer Archiv, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart). The prosaic forms and the spatial energy suggest a sense of theatrical performance, vibrating a stirring romantic undertone.

The pervasive mixture of objectivity and mysticism that subtly suffuses much of Schlemmer’s work is particularly enhanced in Hellgraue Gruppe (light grey group) by the direct confrontation between sharp, delineation of form and the hazy diffusion of enigmatic white light and dark shadow, rendered by his pencil. It is a work laced with sacrality in a manner similar to that employed by Schlemmer’s Bauhaus colleague Lyonel Feininger whose crystallised Gothic cathedrals from this period visually resonate with Schlemmer’s own expression of space and the human form.