Celebration Of An Artist

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Today’s Google doodle.

It’s always an exciting day for a dancer when the Google doodle features an artist. Today’s doodle is an ode to Oskar Schlemmer on the occasion of his 130th birth anniversary, for his contributions to art, puppetry, theatre, and dance. Schlemmer was a German painter, sculptor, designer and choreographer associated with the Bauhaus school – Staatliches Bauhaus, a German art school operational from 1919 to 1933 that combined fine arts and crafts, and was recognized around the world for its approach to design. Schlemmer’s work has been described as a “rejection of the pure abstract, and retention of the human” (not in the emotional sense but in the physical structure of the human body). He represented bodies as architectural forms, where the figure was an interplay of convex, concave and flat surfaces. He was fascinated by movements the body was capable of, and captured his observations in his work.

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Oskar Schlemmer – One of the most influential aesthetes.

Schlemmer was the youngest of six children, whose parents both died before he reached his teens. He studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule – a vocational arts school which existed in German speaking countries in the mid-19th century. The Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart was another one of his alma maters, where he studied under the tutelage of landscape painters Christian Landenberger and Friedrich von Keller. Schlemmer moved to Berlin in 1910 where he painted some of his early works, before returning to Stuttgart in 1912 as an apprentice under Adolf Hölzel. In 1914 he enlisted to fight in WWI, and returned to work under Hölzel in 1918. Schlemmer turned to sculpture in 1919, and was invited to run the mural painting and sculpture departments at the Bauhaus school.

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“Grotesque” (1923)

This was followed by being hired as a Master Of Form at the Bauhaus theatre workshop in 1923, after working at their workshop of sculpture. His most famous work which brought him international recognition was the Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet) of 1922, which comprised costumed actors transformed into geometrical representations of the human body. There were three acts, three dancers and three colors, twelve scenes with eighteen costumes. He designed the costumes based on cylindrical, spherical, conical and spiral shapes – revolutionary at the time. Schlemmer described his creation as a “party of form and color”. The Triadic Ballet is viewed by many scholars and artists as a precursor to contemporary choreography and modernism.

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Costume from the Triadic Ballet, 1922

Space dance, gesture dance, rod dance, hoop dance, metal dance, form dance, scenery dance – Schlemmer used elaborate costumes in his stage ideas and transformed dancers into “artificial” figures which united dance, costume and music. Faceless female figures were the predominant subject in his paintings. He developed a multidisciplinary course at Bauhaus called “Der Mensch” (The Human Being) – a movement which celebrated his themes of the human figure in space; sitting or standing, lying down, walking or stationary. He used Cubism as a springboard for his structural studies, and was intrigued with the possibilities of figures and their relationship to the spaces around them. His characteristic forms are visible in both, his sculptures as well as his paintings. He also immersed his creative urges in stage design, and executed settings for the opera “Nightingale” and the ballet “Renard” in 1929.

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“The Dancer” (1922)

Schlemmer left Bauhaus in 1929 and joined the Akademie in Breslau where he painted one of his most celebrated works, the “Bauhaustreppe” (Bauhaus Stairway) in 1932. During WWII, he worked at the Institut für Malstoffe in Wuppertal. He produced a series of eighteen small, mystical paintings titled “Fensterbilder” (Window Pictures) in 1942, his final works before his death a year later.

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“Bauhaustreppe” (1932)

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Sources:

~www.thefutureperfect.com

~www.britannica.com

~www.bauhaus100.de

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Footsteps To Follow

Guru Purnima is celebrated today. An eastern spiritual tradition dedicated to teachers (or gurus) – considered as enlightened human beings who share their knowledge and wisdom with others. The occasion is often considered a festival, traditionally observed to revere an individual’s chosen mentors and to express one’s gratitude.

Guru Purnima is observed on a full moon day (purnima) in the month of Ashadha (June-July) as per the Hindu calendar – the day on which Maharshi Sri Veda Vyasa was born. Hence, the day is also known as “Vyasa Purnima“. Vyasa was the one who completed the codification of the four vedas and wrote the eighteen puranas. The day marks the peak of the lunar cycle after the end of the solar cycle. Hence, the specific date varies every year. The Guru Purnima of 2018 is special due to the occurrence of the total lunar eclipse or the blood moon. Hindus refrain from performing any puja or ceremony on the day of the lunar eclipse, since no auspicious practices are undertaken during the period of the eclipse. For this reason, my dance class has scheduled the Guru Purnima ceremony for tomorrow, and my drumming school will be celebrating the occasion on Monday.

I don’t follow the rituals much since I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I try and participate in the activities. My dance form is the Indian classical style of Odissi. On Guru Purnima, our ghunghroos or ankle bells are blessed by the teacher, an offertory of fruits and flowers is made to the gods (Lord Jagannath in the case of Odissi), and the guru ties a cord on the wrist of every student, symbolic of his/her blessings. The student in turn delivers Guru Dakshina – the tradition of repaying a teacher for everything one has learnt in the course of the year. This could be monetary or non-monetary – in a dance class, students can even offer a dance performance as guru dakshina. In my drumming school, students play various percussion instruments as guru dakshina, and homage is paid to the founder of the institute. I play the doumbek, but students can select from an array of instruments – from the djembe to the tabla, the timpani, bongo or the drum kit. Thus, the ceremonies vary depending on what the teacher deems fit for his/her school and students.

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All set for tomorrow.