Informing his constructivist leanings was Dexel’s close and long-lasting friendship with Dutch De-Stijl artist Theo van Doesburg, which started in 1921. Borrowing ideas from Cubism, Suprematism and Futurism, Constructivism was an invention of the Russian avant-garde that found adherents across the continent. Dexel abolished the traditional artistic concern with composition and replaced it with ‘construction.’ The present work is a powerful example of how Constructivist art is marked by a commitment to total abstraction and a wholehearted acceptance of modernity. Dexel’s execution of mathematical lines and pure blocks of colour are methodical yet, almost paradoxically, experimental, conveying the idea that objective forms have universal meaning and should be valued over the subjective but recognising its status as a new and uncharted approach. Imbuing the notion of reduction as well, the present work encapsulates the form’s most basic elements, reflecting the aim of the Constructivists, which was to achieve an art of order which would lead to a world of unity and peace in the wake of the First World War.
From 1928 to 1935, Dexel lectured on graphic design at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Magdeburg but the National Socialists dismissed him from his post in 1935 and he gave up painting in the same year. The Second World War had a huge impact on Dexel’s self-worth and sense of purpose but the 1960s witnessed his artistic return. In the 1960s, Dexel orientated his artistic presence by re-visiting his themes from the 1920s, including the present work which is based on the work Rote Senkrechte of 1923. Dexel's vertical compositions from 1923 are undoubtedly some of the most important works of his œuvre, which explains why the artist turned to them when re-entering the artistic fray.
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