Grit Kallin-Fischer, ‘Freddo (Akfredo Bortoluzzi) ’, ca. 1928, Michael Hoppen Gallery

Grit Kallin-Fischer’s study of her friend and fellow-artist Alfredo ‘Freddo’ Bortoluzzi (1905-1995) was likely made in 1928, when both were students at the Bauhaus in Dessau. There they studied painting and graphic art under Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and László Moholy-Nagy. Both also participated in Oskar Schlemmer’s radical theatre workshop, which incorporated—among many other innovations—costumes that defied conventional notions of stage dress. In this image, Bortoluzzi poses in white face, clad in a constricting white sheath accessorized with a pair of wings. Kallin-Fischer has deftly cropped the image to a narrow rectangle, accentuating her subject’s shape, and manipulated the contrast so that Bortoluzzi stands out dramatically against the darker background.

Kallin-Fischer and Bortoluzzi feature in each other’s artwork; a playful photograph taken in Walter Gropius’s studio shows them together with a group of other students (Bauhaus Photography, pl. 107). After exhibiting his work in an exhibition that was branded ‘degenerate’ by the German authorities, Bortoluzzi switched his artistic focus to dance. He studied in Paris, and continued as dancer, choreographer, and set designer in Europe through the late 1950s. A knee injury ultimately ended his career, and he returned to painting.

Signature: Titled in blue pencil on verso.

About Grit Kallin-Fischer