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German artists’ modern work at IU Art Museum for Jazz in July series


By Sarah Boyum



Willi Baumeister is not a household name in America. But he is recognized as one of the leading German Modernist artists during the early to mid-1900s.

“Baumeister in Print,” a new installation featuring three of Baumeister’s prints, will be exhibited at the IU Art Museum’s Gallery of Art of the Western World until Sept. 9.

The Baumeister prints were chosen specifically for the “Jazz in July” series.

Nan Brewer, curator for works on paper at the museum, chose artwork with a musical theme that could also serve as a poster image for the series.

Baumeister’s “Allegro” print is featured on posters for the Jazz in July series.
Considered a leading teacher and artist in German Modernism and Abstractionism, Baumeister taught at the Städel School in Frankfurt and at the Stuttgart Academy of Art.

Baumeister used abstraction in his work, and also collected ancient, non-Western artifacts that reflected a primitive feel in some of his artwork, according to Brewer’s article in the art museum’s calendar, “Willi Baumeister’s Pictorial Perfomance.”

Baumeister’s artistic interests and style continued throughout his life. The current exhibit showcases Baumeister’s use of silkscreen, a printmaking technique he used to reproduce oil paintings he previously created.

The silkscreen method involves the use of a fine mesh screen. The artist will block out certain areas of the screen and allow ink to go through the unblocked
sections.

This process can be repeated multiple times on one print to create a layering effect of different shapes and ink colors.

This particular installation features a print from the mid-1930s, called “The Painter (Del Maler),” that reflects the influence of artist and friend Oskar Schlemmer. The different abstract forms created by the lines show a figure painting.

“Amenophis,” which is also on display, is a large color print from 1950 that demonstrates the primitive side of Baumeister’s work. Brewer described this style as “modernist cave painting.” Baumeister used a silkscreen method to create the different textures and shapes in the print.

The third print on display, “Allegro,” also uses the silkscreen method. This print is musical in nature because the figure created by the lines appears to be playing a musical instrument, Brewer said.. The use of the silkscreen method in this piece creates a more “rough and ready” organic line that differs from the mechanical, hard-edged line of pop art, also created through silkscreen.

Brewer chose Baumeister’s prints for display because they are good representative works of one of the leading figures of an artistic movement. Brewer also wanted to introduce people to the unknown artist.

“I’m hoping to bring this lesser-known artist back into people’s consciousness and imagination,” she said.

The museum will keep its first floor gallery open 5:30 to 9 p.m. during the Jazz in July events.

Anita DeCastro, manager of events at the museum, said the extra half hour the gallery is open after the concerts end will give audience members a chance to view the
Baumeister prints without missing the jazz concert.

DeCastro hopes the Jazz in July events make people more aware of the galleries, gift shop, and everything else the museum has to offer.

“Music is an attraction, something fun people can experience at the museum while viewing the collections,” DeCastro said.

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