Gotthard Graubner

Ohne Titel

Gotthard Graubner, Ohne Titel

Watercolour on vellum

26.8 × 20.1 cm / 10 9/16 × 7 15/16 in

Signed and dated on the verso

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Johannes Wasmuth, Bahnhof Rolandseck; Private collection Cologne (since the 1960s)

Gotthard Graubner is one of the outstanding representatives of non-objective painting. In 1954 he left the GDR and settled in Düsseldorf, where he continued his studies at the academy of arts and finished in 1959. Before that he had already studied at the art academies in Berlin and Dresden. He remained faithful to the academy in Düsseldorf and returned from 1976 to 1988 as professor for free painting.

Like hardly any other German artist, Graubner has dealt with the effect of color on a wide variety of media in his non-representational paintings. In his works, color unfolds its own life independent of representational or thematic integration. By experimenting with color, material, and space, the artist has repeatedly shifted the boundaries of painting since the 1960s. From year to year, his works, which were initially bound to the two-dimensional surface, increasingly intervene in space and since the mid-1960s have increasingly become three-dimensional bodies, the so-called "color space bodies", for which the artist is widely known.

In Gotthard Graubner's work, painting on canvas and paper is almost synonymous. Working on paper, for example, never merely has a preparatory character for later canvas works. Rather, Graubner is always interested in the specific qualities of different media and the effect 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 when he only exhibits the "skins that have been removed" from the works that were formerly created as works on canvas.

Our 1963 watercolour on wove paper (papier vélin) reminds us in its formal design of one of the famous bodies of colour space. The sheet shows a greenish-blue rectangle in portrait format that seems to float against a delicate pink background. The edges of the inner body of paint are not smooth, and the structure of the paper emphasizes the impression of three-dimensionality that the painter creates by applying several layers of glaze. The colours used are, as so often in Graubner's work, rather unspecific. Through the non-uniform application and the mixing of several layers of paint on top of each other, he gives the central form a light, almost floating impression and a quite lively, moving, almost shimmering surface.

Graubner's intimate and particularly expressive works on paper shaped his artistic oeuvre up to the 1970s, often anticipating the later color space bodies in their appearance and formal arrangement. Until his death in 2013, Graubner worked on colour and form as a fundamental problem of painting. Important milestones in his outstanding career include numerous participations in the documenta in Kassel, the establishment of the German Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia (1982), and the commissioned paintings for the Federal President's official residence in Bellevue Palace in Berlin.

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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