Oskar Schlemmer

Schlemmer became known internationally with the première of his 'Triadisches Ballett' in Stuttgart in 1922. His work for the Bauhaus and his preoccupation with the theatre are an important factor in his work, which deals mainly with the problematic of the figure in space. People, typically stylised female figures, continued to be the predominant subject in his painting. After using Cubism as a springboard for his structural studies, Schlemmer's work became intrigued with the possibilities of figures and their relationship to the space around them, for example 'Egocentric Space Lines' (1924). Schlemmer's characteristic forms can be seen in his sculptures as well as his paintings. Yet he also turned his attention to stage design, first getting involved with this in 1929, executing settings for the opera 'Nightingale' and the ballet 'Renard' by Igor Stravinsky.

Schlemmer's ideas on art were complex and challenging even for the progressive Bauhaus movement. His work, nevertheless, was widely exhibited in both Germany and outside the country. His work was a rejection of pure abstraction, instead retaining a sense of the human, though not in the emotional sense but in view of the physical structure of the human. He represented bodies as architectural forms, reducing the figure to a rhythmic play between convex, concave and flat surfaces. And not just of its form, he was fascinated by every movement the body could make; trying to capture it in his work. As well as leaving a large body of work behind, Schlemmer art theories have also been published. A comprehensive book of his letters and diary entries from 1910 to 1943 is also available

Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet) is a ballet developed by Oskar Schlemmer. It premiered in Stuttgart, on 30 September 1922, with music composed by Paul Hindemith, after formative performances dating back to 1916, with the performers Elsa Hotzel and Albert Burger. The ballet became the most widely performed avant-garde artistic dance and while Schlemmer was at the Bauhaus from 1921 to 1929, the ballet toured, helping to spread the ethos of the Bauhaus.

Synopsis

Inspired in part by Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and his observations and experiences during the First World War, Oskar Schlemmer began to conceive of the human body as a new artistic medium. He saw ballet and pantomime as free from the historical baggage of theatre and opera and thus able to present his ideas of choreographed geometry, man as dancer, transformed by costume, moving in space.

The idea of the ballet was based on the principle of the trinity. It has 3 acts, 3 participants (2 male, 1 female), 12 dances and 18 costumes. Each act had a different colour and mood. The first three scenes, against a lemon yellow background to affect a cheerful, burlesque mood; the two middle scenes, on a pink stage, festive and solemn and the final three scenes, on black, were intended to be mystical and fantastic.

He saw the movement of puppets and marionettes as aesthetically superior to that of humans, as it emphasised that the medium of every art is artificial. This artifice could be expressed through stylised movements and the abstraction of the human body. His consideration of the human form (the abstract geometry of the body e.g. a cylinder for the neck, a circle for head and eyes) led to the all important costume design, to create what he called his ‘figurine'. The music followed and finally the dance movements were decided.

Schlemmer saw the modern world driven by two main currents, the mechanised (man as machine and the body as a mechanism) and the primordial impulses (the depths of creative urges). He claimed that the choreographed geometry of dance offered a synthesis, the Dionysian and emotional origins of dance, becomes strict and Apollonian in its final form.

The 1922 performance was with music by: Händel, Galuppi, Haydn, Mozart, Debussy, Bossi, and Tarenghi
The 1926 version for the Donaueschinger Musiktagen, neue Musik by Hindemith Suite fuer mechanische Orgel

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Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1916-1922 Triadisches Ballett 4.00 stars DVD
Comments:

Die Bauhaustänze von Oskar Schlemmer in Rekonstruktionen von Margarete Hasting und Gerhard Bohner.Im Bühnenwerk sah Walter Gropius ein mit der Baukunst vergleichbares Zusammenspiel verschiedener Disziplinen zu einer "orchestralen Einheit". Aus der strukturellen Verwandtschaft der beiden Künste leitete er die Notwendigkeit zur Einrichtung einer Bauhausbühne ab. Hier sollten die elementaren Elemente der "Bühnengestaltung" untersucht und neuformuliert werden. Im Zentrum der Bauhausbühne stand Oskar Schlemmer, welcher von 1923 bis 1929 die Bühnenwerkstatt leitete. Mit seinem Triadischen Ballett und den Bauhaustänzen untersuchte er im abstrakten und geometrischen Spiel mit Form, Farbe, Ton, Bewegung, Licht das Spannungsfeld von Mensch und Raum und damit grundlegende Bedingungen des theatralen Gestaltens.

Synopsis

Im Bühnenwerk sah Walter Gropius ein mit der Baukunst vergleichbares Zusammenspiel verschiedener Disziplinen zu einer »orchestralen Einheit«. Aus der strukturellen Verwandtschaft der beiden Künste leitete er die Notwendigkeit zur Einrichtung einer Bauhausbühne ab. Hier sollten die elementaren Elemente der »Bühnengestaltung« untersucht und neuformuliert werden. Im Zentrum der Bauhausbühne stand Oskar Schlemmer, welcher von 1923 bis 1929 die Bühnenwerkstatt leitete. Mit seinem Triadischen Ballett und den Bauhaustänzen untersuchte er im abstrakten und geometrischen Spiel mit Form, Farbe, Ton, Bewegung, Licht das Spannungsfeld von Mensch und Raum und damit grundlegende Bedingungen des theatralen Gestaltens.

DVD:

MENSCH UND KUNSTFIGUR: OSKAR SCHLEMMER UND DIE BAUHAUSBÜHNE

D 1969, 27 Min.
Rekonstruktion und Regie: Margarete Hasting
Kamera: Kurt Gewissen
Musik: Erich Ferstl
Tänzer: Werner Braun, Carlo Miskulin, Hannes Weich,
Elisabeth Rösel, Inge Werndl

DAS TRIADISCHE BALLETT

Oskar Schlemmer (1922)

D 1970, 30 Min.
Ein Film in drei Teilen nach den Tänzen von Oskar Schlemmer
Buch und Choreografie: Margarete Hasting, Franz Schömbs, Georg Verden
Musik: Erich Ferstl
Tänzer: Edith Demharter, Ralph Smolik, Hannes Winkler

OSKAR SCHLEMMER UND TANZ

D 1980, 64 Min., Ausschnitt von 15 Min.
Choreografie: Gerhard Bohner
Kamera: Heide-Marie Härtel
Musik: No Set Ensemble
Tänzer: Jessica Ebert, Ivan Liška, Philip Kilner

DAS TRIADISCHE BALLETT

Oskar Schlemmer (1922)
NL 1989, 72 Min.
Choreografie: Gerhard Bohner
Regie: Henk van Dijk
Musik: Hans Joachim Hespos

GERHARD BOHNER:
TÄNZER UND CHOREOGRAPH

D 1984, 20 Min., Ausschnitt von 6 Min.
Bericht: Ulrich Tegeder