From the Catalogue: Fritz Winter

It has to do with the detachment from external appearances and the importance of the internal driving forces, which are not immediately visible, and the internal structure, which is not immediately tangible.” (cit.: Ernst Kállai in: Hubertus Gassner. “Naum Gabo–Fritz Winter 1930–1940,” Exhibition catalogue, Folkwang Essen Museum 2003, p. 77) 

With this description of the representation of nature in Abstract Art, Ernst Kállai perfectly captures Fritz Winter’s artistic intention. Art should reveal the internal structures and processes of organisms and objects—parallel to the latest scientific discoveries about nature which broke fresh ground in the early 20th century. During the 1930s and 1940s, when the Bauhaus pupil Fritz Winter grappled with the artistic oeuvre of his teachers Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, as well as of his mentor Naum Gabo, a far-reaching, revolutionary step is already evident in the artistic representation of nature: landscape portrayal at the beginning of the 20th century was characterised by a new image of nature as it “becomes meaningful in a different manner. It loses its clarity but gains unknown totality. It can be located anywhere,... in us and outside us”. (Gottfried Boehm: “The new image of nature. After the end of landscape painting in”: Manfred Smuda (editor), Landscape, Frankfurt /M, 1986, p. 108) 

Deeply convinced by this artistic concept, Winter—reduced to the artistic means of paint and form—worked at reproducing nature. He layered, branched, and intertwined individual lines, rectangles and surfaces into and over each other. As a founding member of the artist group “Zen 49” in Munich, which included Willi Baumeister, Rupprecht Geiger, Julius Bissier, and Rolf Cavael, he attempted to bring this concept to wider recognition in the years following the war, also in the light of its condemnation as “degenerate art” during the period of Nazi rule. This follow-up of the tradition of classical abstraction of the pre-war years, the further continuation and development of artistic values, and the spread and mediation of abstraction as an equivalent creative means of expression, constitute a significant chapter in the development of modern, abstract art in Germany. Winter’s most urgent concern is to make reality, the forces of nature, and their constant change allegorically apparent. 

The bright picture, Kleiner Garten (Small garden), offered here is a wonderful example of the visualisation of nature and its inner structures, as Winter once again succeeds in designing the individual elements as a harmonious whole, whilst developing an astonishing spatial depth. An easing of the image structure, visible in Winter’s art since the end of the 1950s, can be recognised here. The colour range brightens, and the bright red and green oblongs accentuate the almost monochrome background. Energy and excitement arise between the different elements, creating a cheerful and happy effect. Every semblance of formal gesture has been dropped. Winter enables a free and detached view into the blooming garden; the dynamics of the brushstroke become the vividness of nature.

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