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Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

Malcolm Gee

(b Brühl, nr Cologne, April 2, 1891; d Paris, April 1, 1976).

German painter, printmaker, and sculptor, naturalized American in 1948 and French in 1958. He was a major contributor to the theory and practice of Surrealism (see Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale, 1924). His work challenged and disrupted what he considered to be repressive aspects of European culture, in particular Christian doctrine, conventional morality, and the aesthetic codes of Western academic art. Until the mid-1920s he was little known outside a small circle of artists and writers in Cologne and Paris, but he became increasingly successful from c. 1928 onwards. After 1945 he was respected and honoured as a surviving representative of a ‘heroic’ generation of avant-garde artists.

Article

Daniel Robbins

(b Paris, Dec 8, 1881; d Avignon, June 23, 1953).

French painter, printmaker and writer. He grew up in Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris, and as a student at the Collège Chaptal became interested in theatre and painting. At 19, his father put him to work in the family interior design and fabric business, an experience that contributed to a lifelong respect for skilled workmanship. The first paintings he exhibited, at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1902, were Impressionist in character, but the work accepted within two years at the Salon d’Automne showed a shift to social themes, a tendency that accelerated until 1908. Compulsory military service from 1903 to 1905 thrust him into the company of working-class people, arousing a permanent sense of solidarity with their aspirations and needs. The results were immediately apparent in the Association Ernest Renan, which he helped to establish in 1905, a kind of popular university with secular and socialist aims. He was also one of the founders of a community of intellectuals based near Paris, the ...

Article

Timothy O. Benson

(b Vienna, July 12, 1886; d Limoges, Feb 1, 1971).

Austrian photomontagist, painter, photographer, printmaker, writer, and theorist. He trained in the academic artistic tradition under his father, Victor Hausmann (1859–1920). In 1900 he went to Berlin, where he later became a central figure in Dada. His important friendship with the eccentric architect and mystical artist Johannes Baader (1875–1956) began in 1905. In the first years of the next decade he was associated with such artists as Erich Heckel and Ludwig Meidner and produced numerous paintings, including Blue Nude (1916; Rochechouart, Mus. Dépt.), and woodcuts, several of which were published in his book Material der Malerei Plastik Architektur (Berlin, 1918). These works blended Expressionism with the influences of artists then exhibiting at Herwarth Walden’s Sturm-Galerie: Fernand Léger, Alexander Archipenko, Robert Delaunay and Sonia Delaunay, Arthur Segal, and others. Around 1915 his widening contacts with the writers Salomon Friedländer and Franz Jung led to innumerable theoretical and satirical writings that were published in ...

Article

Benjamin Benus

(b Cologne, Sept 1, 1895; d Cologne, July 3, 1936).

German painter, draughtsman, and printmaker. Along with Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (1894–1933), Hoerle was one of the leading figures of the Cologne-based Gruppe Progressiver Künstler. During his studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Cologne in 1912, Hoerle first met several of the artists with whom he would later collaborate in the post-war Dadaist Stupid group—among them, Angelika Fick (1899–1923) and her brother Willy Fick (1894–1970). In 1917 Hoerle began contributing prints and drawings to the Berlin-based journal Die Aktion. The same year Hoerle was drafted into the German army and sent to the front—an experience that affected him deeply and had a lasting impact on his artwork. Hoerle’s Krüppelmappe (1919–20; priv. col.), for example, depicts the physical and psychological traumas experienced by wounded soldiers returning from the front, while the mechanized, automaton-like figures that appear in a number of his works after 1920—for example his now-lost oil painting ...

Article

Ioana Vlasiu

(b Bucharest, 1895; d Ein Hod, 1984).

Romanian painter, printmaker, architect and writer. He was a pupil of the painter Iosif Iser and from 1915 studied architecture in Zurich. With Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp, Richard Huelsenbeck and Hugo Ball, Janco participated in the Dada performances of the Cabaret Voltaire (see Dada, §1 and Mask, c. 1919). Janco made props and posters for the Dada group and illustrated with engravings the books of Tristan Tzara; he broke with Dada in 1922. In 1918 he became involved with the Neue Leben group in Basle. After returning to Romania in 1920 he took part in all the major avant-garde exhibitions, showed at the Maison d’Art in Bucharest (1922) and was a member of the group Contimporanul (1924), which published an eponymous review and organized the first international avant-garde exhibition in December 1924. Janco was prolific as an artist, drawing, painting, engraving, designing buildings (e.g. Wexler House, ...

Article

Éva Bajkay

(b Ersekujvar, Hungary, March 21, 1887; d Budapest, July 22, 1967).

Hungarian writer, painter, theorist, collagist, designer, printmaker and draughtsman. His family moved to Budapest in 1904, and, after finishing an apprenticeship as a blacksmith, in 1908 he began publishing stories and poems. In 1909–10 he travelled across Western Europe and spent some time in Paris, becoming acquainted with modern art and anarchist ideas. He published short stories, plays and poems in Budapest and from November 1915 he edited the periodical A Tett (‘The deed’), which was anti-militarist and discussed socialist theories and avant-garde ideas. In summer 1916 he spent time in the Kecskemét artists’ colony with his brother-in-law Béla Uitz and under his influence executed his first ink drawings (e.g. Landscape, 1916; Budapest, N.G.). Progressive young artists and aesthetes grouped themselves around Kassák; after A Tett was banned in September 1916, he started in November a new periodical, MA (‘Today’; see MA group), which he edited with Uitz (to ...

Article

John Milner

[Lisitsky, El’ ; Lisitsky, Lazar’ (Markovich )]

(b Pochinok, Smolensk province, Nov 23, 1890; d Moscow, Dec 30, 1941).

Russian draughtsman, architect, printmaker, painter, illustrator, designer, photographer, teacher, and theorist.

After attending school in Smolensk, he enrolled in 1909 at the Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt, to study architecture and engineering. He also travelled extensively in Europe, however, and he made a tour of Italy to study art and architecture. He frequently made drawings of the architectural monuments he encountered on his travels. These early graphic works were executed in a restrained, decorative style reminiscent of Russian Art Nouveau book illustration. His drawings of Vitebsk and Smolensk (1910; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.), for example, show a professional interest in recording specific architectural structures and motifs, but they are simultaneously decorative graphic works in their own right and highly suitable for publication. This innate awareness of the importance of controlling the design of the page was to remain a feature of Lissitzky’s work throughout radical stylistic transformations. He also recorded buildings in Ravenna, Venice, and elsewhere in Italy in ...

Article

M. A. v. Puttkamer

[MOPP]

(b Vienna, July 1, 1885; d New York, May 19, 1954).

Austrian painter and printmaker. After training at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna (1900–03), and the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague (1903–6), he contributed, along with Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele, to the development of Austrian Expressionist painting. The three painters influenced each other’s work in varying degrees. In their ‘psychological portraits’, such as Oppenheimer’s painting of the composer Anton Webern (1909; Wuppertal, von der Heydt-Mus.), they tried to capture the sitters’ mental characteristics. Existential needs and fears were a dominant theme of their paintings, Oppenheimer frequently depicting Christian themes, while such provocative paintings as Operation (1912; Prague, N.G.) reveal a close affinity to the literature of the period in the way that shocking subject-matter becomes a weapon in the fight against a reality that is felt to be unbearable. In Berlin from 1912, Oppenheimer made drawings for the Expressionist magazine Die Aktion and began to make etchings. Between ...

Article

Astrid Schmetterling

(b Miesbach, Upper Bavaria, Aug 21, 1894; d Keilberg, nr Aschaffenburg, Feb 25, 1982).

German painter, collagist, printmaker and photographer. He studied briefly at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich (1913–14) and in 1913 began to make Expressionist woodcuts, which were published in magazines such as Die Aktion (Berlin), Die Weissen Blätter (Leipzig) and Sirius (Zurich). From 1915 to 1920 he lived in Zurich and Geneva, where he was associated with the Dada movement. He continued creating woodcuts but also made reliefs, paintings and collages from newspaper cuttings and other printed papers. At the same time he became interested in abstracting photography and using it in a more metaphoric way. In 1918, while living in Geneva, he created his first ‘schadographs’, such as Untitled (Fish; 1918; New York, MOMA), contact prints of collages and objects on photosensitive paper. Like Man Ray’s rayographs and Moholy-Nagy’s photograms, these cameraless photographs reproduced the negative image of the textures placed on them, creating a new form of representation....