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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At Seeing Nothing Is Lost

SALVAGE

~Liam McKinnon

 

It was a shipwreck at the edge

of the world

on a shore of mud and stones

where the tide pulled out so far,

we thought it would slip off into space

like a rolling sheet slipping from the bed

you never made.

 

We spotted it one summer day

as we climbed the grassy dunes,

tilted on its side like

a decaying whale with

bones of wood and mold

betrayed by the ocean’s unspoken spleen.

 

You called out “Race you there”

and darted down the slopes,

surprising a procession of

mourning gulls who had gathered

in musical lament.

 

I watched you go, moving like unchained passion

in a wild dance with the world

as indigo clouds ballooned on the horizon

and the sea birds you had chased

formed white haloes for you.

 

When the faraway sky split in two and

unleashed a thousand winds

upon us,

you threw your arms up in welcome.

With the rain matting your hair

you flashed a smile at me that

made me wonder

if I could ever make you feel

so alive.

 

In the ship’s rounded hull

the wood had splintered away

to offer a doorway within.

You took a step before taking my hand

and led me into the damp

tunnels of the whale.

 

 

We ascended rotting ladders into

a slanted room with broken

windows that let in sea air and

the sigh of breaking waves.

 

You searched for discarded treasure.

I , for forgotten letters

in hidden drawers

from a stranded sailor to his wife,

who would learn the meaning of forever

waiting on a distant shore.

 

But all we found was sand and feathers,

ruined books and crabs

hiding along the shelves.

You said the jewels and gold

had all been pillaged,

and though the secrets had been erased

it did not mean they were never written.

 

In that room I got to taste salt on your lips

and feel the fragility of your bones

Rock against mine.

To look in your eyes and find a storm

and to learn the love a heart

as free and untamed as yours

had to give.

 

Finally at night, when the rain

settled and the tide returned

to caress our lonely ship and make of us an island,

we climbed up onto deck

to find a map of stars stretched out above us

and swirling galaxies in the mirror below.

 

As you looked up I turned to

watch you

being held in silence,

the pools of your eyes

filling up with that immensity.

 

How many times I tried to

reach you through that space

but your mind remained a sea

of constellations

only you could sail.

 

Way back then, I never thought I

would one day look upon you

like that shipwreck at the edge of the world,

lying on your side, on the shore of existence.

I never prepared myself for the strength it would take to

hold your absence in my arms.

 

How I wish I could so easily

step through your broken hull and

climb ladders into the chamber that held

your soul, to open the drawers

you never showed.

 

Maybe there I’d find a letter

or a scribbled note in a Cola bottle

you had thrown into the sea

to tell her about us and the lives we drew.

 

If I could salvage the thoughts you once had

like untold fables of wonder,

would I ever come across

my name

pressed between the lines?

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