Oskar Schlemmer
Oskar Schlemmer Mask Portrait
Oskar Schlemmer 'Self Portrait with Mask', 1923

Born in 1888, Oskar Schlemmer studied at the Stuttgart Academy in Germany. After finishing military service as a soldier in WWI, his utopian dance performance The Triadic Ballet premiered in 1922 in Stuttgart. In 1920, he married Helene Tutein, called Tut. They had three children, all born in Weimar. In the same year Schlemmer was appointed by Walter Gropius together with Paul Klee and in 1922 Wassily Kandinsky, as Master to the Bauhaus in Weimar, and in 1926 to the Bauhaus in Dessau.

From 1923 Schlemmer directed the Bauhaus theatre workshop and created the series of Bauhaus Dances, which toured in 1929. Following an appointment to the Academy in Breslau (known today as Wroclaw in Poland), he was appointed as professor at the prestigious Berlin Academy.

In 1932, he was dismissed by the Nazis who falsely accused him of being a “Marxist Bolshevist”. The Nazis destroyed some of his artworks as early as 1930. His paintings were denounced as “degenerate”, removed from museums in Germany and they were displayed in the “Entartete Kunst” 1937 exhibition in Munich and later in other German cities. Ostracised and banned by the Nazi regime from working as an artist, he was forced to toil in paint factories. Not finding sponsors for visa to migrate with his wife and three children to the United States, in despair he fell ill. Due to malnourishment and lack of proper treatment, Schlemmer passed away on 13 April 1943 in Baden-Baden.  

Painter, sculptor, stage and costume designer; dancer and choreographer, composer; pedagogue, author, designer, creator of a Gesamtkunstwerk, Oskar Schlemmer is internationally acclaimed for his dance creations The Triadic Ballet, 1916 – 1932, The Figural Cabinet and the Bauhaus Dances. He is also famous for his paintings Bauhaus Staircase, 1932, exhibited at MoMA, New York, Five Figures, Roman, 1925, Kunstmuseum Basel; his sculpture Abstract Figure, The Art Institute Chicago; his theoretical drawings on the human measurements and human condition in relation to space and his stage sets and costumes for Les Noces, Le Rossignol, Renard by Igor Stravinsky. As well, he is renowned for teaching at the Bauhaus, his writings on art and his diaries. His dance and performance creations have had a lasting influence internationally on contemporary dance and performance art. Works by Oskar Schlemmer are in the collections of major museums in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, USA, Japan et al. His works were exhibited at the Biennale Arte Venezia, the Bienal de São Paulo, documenta Kassel, Expo 58 Brussels, in 1967 at the Exposition universelle et internationale Montréal.