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Karl Ballmer

Figur, ca 1953/1957
oil on Pavatex
232.0 x 107.0 cm
Presented during the retrospective that the Aargauer Kunsthaus dedicated to the artist in 2016, these three paintings are later works of Karl Ballmer, which were still showing the influence of his formative years among the Hamburg avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s.

Even before becoming a member of the Hamburg Secession in 1929, Ballmer regularly visited the group’s annual exhibitions, which also showcased recent art trends, presenting works by the most important modern artists of the time (like Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Giorgio De Chirico and Georges Braque). In the late 1920s, Ballmer counted among the young painters who were developing a new pictorial language under the influence of Edvard Munch’s work.

Characterized by a limited set of colors often dominated by blues and greys, his compositions were like brief summaries of characters and landscapes with rounded contours.

Resembling a full-length portrait, Figur (Figure) makes noticeable reference to Paul Klee or Pablo Picasso’s dislocation of the body into succinct blocks and successive planes. However, Ballmer distanced himself from these models of abstraction by following his own canons. He developed a unique style of painting that tended to go beyond external appearances.
Karl Ballmer, Figur, ca 1953/1957