Gotthard Graubner, Ohne Titel

Mixed technique on paper

49 × 49 cm / 19 5/16 × 19 5/16 in

Signed and dated »77«

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The artist’s studio; Private Collection Switzerland

I don't use colour to illustrate literary themes. Colour itself is subject enough for me.1)

Gotthard Graubner, born in 1930 in Erlbach, Saxony, is one of the outstanding representatives of non-objective painting. Graubner left the GDR in 1954 and settled in Düsseldorf. He completed his studies at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1959. He had previously studied at the art academies in Berlin and Dresden. He remained loyal to the academy in Düsseldorf and returned as a professor of painting from 1976 to 1988. He died in Neuss in 2013. More than almost any other German artist, Graubner explored the effect of colour on a wide variety of pictorial media in his non-representational paintings.
In his works, colour unfolds a life of its own, independent of figurative or thematic integration. By experimenting with colour and space, the artist has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of painting since the 1960s. From year to year, his works, which were initially still tied to the two-dimensional surface, increasingly intervene in space and, since the mid-1960s, have increasingly become three-dimensional bodies, the so-called "colour space bodies" for which the artist is widely known. However, painting on canvas and on paper are almost synonymous in Gotthard Graubner's work. Working on paper is never merely preparatory for later works on canvas. Rather, Graubner is always interested in the specific qualities of different papers and the effect they have on his painting. Graubner also often blurs the boundaries between the more physical canvases and the flatter works on paper, namely when works on paper are later mounted on canvas or he only exhibits the "skins removed" from the works that were previously created as canvases.
Our work in mixed media on paper was created in 1977 and its formal design is reminiscent of one of the famous colour space bodies. The sheet shows a square floating in dark pink against a grey-brown background. The corners of the square are rounded and the structure of the paper emphasises the impression of space created by the painter through the glazed application of several layers of paint. The colours used are, as so often in Graubner's work, rather unspecific. By applying the colours unevenly and mixing several layers of paint on top of each other, Graubner gives the square form a light, almost floating appearance and a very lively, animated, almost shimmering surface. Graubner's intimate and particularly expressive works on paper characterise his artistic work until the 1970s and often anticipate the later colour space bodies in their appearance and formal structure. Graubner worked on colour and form as a fundamental problem of painting until his death in 2013. Important milestones in his outstanding career include numerous participations in the documenta in Kassel, the decoration of the German Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia (1982) and the commissioned paintings for the official residence of the Federal President at Bellevue Palace in Berlin.

1) Quoted from: Hamburger Kunsthalle (ed.), "Gotthard Graubner", exhib. cat., Hamburg 1975/76, p. 86.

About Gotthard Graubner

Gotthard Graubner is among the outstanding representatives of non-objective painting. His so-called “cushion paintings”— sculptural-looking pictorial bodies— gained the painter international recognition.

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