Sale: 545 / Evening Sale, Dec. 08. 2023 in Munich Lot 30


Willi Baumeister
Maschine grau mit Pfeil II, 1926.
Oil on canvas
€ 200,000 - 300,000

$ 210,000 - 315,000

Maschine grau mit Pfeil II. 1926.
Oil on canvas.
Signed and dated on the reverse. 64.5 x 46 cm (25.3 x 18.1 in).
The catalogue raisonné states that the painting is also erroneously called "Maschine in Blau mit Pfeil" and "Maschine blau".
• Of utmost rarity. Never before was a comparable work offered on the international auction market (
• One of the last three available paintings from the group of the 'Machine- and Man Pictures'. 11 of 18 are considered lost while 4 are museum-owned.
• Key work in the development of figurative-abstract Constructivism: Baumeister conceived his pictures from figurative and tectonic forms.
• Similar works are at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, the Stedjelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, and the St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis (Missouri/USA)

PROVENANCE: Heinz Rasch Collection, Wuppertal
Galerie Schlichtenmaier, Grafenau
Private collection Southern Germany.

EXHIBITION: Willi Baumeister. Städtisches Museum Wuppertal-Eberfeld, 1947 (illu. 1).

LITERATURE: Peter Beye, Felicitas Baumeister, Willi Baumeister. Catalogue raisonné of paintings, volume II, Ostfildern 2002, no. 375 (illu.).
Will Grohmann, Willi Baumeister. Leben und Werk, Cologne 1963, no. 252, no illu. (here "Maschine blau").

Called up: December 8, 2023 - ca. 17.58 h +/- 20 min.

So-called 'machine pictures' have existed in the work of Willi Baumeister since 1922. Thematically, it is not only about the interaction of man and machine, but also about the exploration of constructivist arranged surface elements, about the unstable balance of forms in an imaginary space. The painting, dated 1926, shows the rational principle of form that is so characteristic of Willi Baumeister with great clarity. The theme of the standing 'figures' staggered one behind the other is addressed by adding the geometrical units rectangle and circle, as we find them as a canon in all of the artist's machine paintings. On closer inspection, the fine treatment of the individual, iridescent surfaces, as well as the partially inserted fine dividing lines, which form a contrast to the color surfaces, is particularly appealing. Nevertheless, the strict two-dimensionality seems loosened up by the discreetly shaded zones. In terms of artistic development, the painting “Maschine grau mit Pfeil“ (Machine Gray with Arrow) stands between the early Apollo pictures, which depict an ideal human figure, and the pure machine pictures. Works dealing with the theme of "man and machine" were repeatedly created in different constellations between 1922 and 1928. The composition "Maschine grau mit Pfeil" is based on an exact canon of forms that the artist virtually executed with 'compass and ruler'. The strictly two-dimensionally painted compartments concentrate on a center and are balanced against the edges: statuesque elements take on a floating quality in the slightly asymmetrical ensemble of forms, which works solely with surface elements. The painting shows a wonderfully clear, constructivist, playful formal language characteristic of Baumeister and reminiscent of similar works by Léger.
Baumeister found orientation with the latest French art trends from early on, while the French art scene also discovered his gift, especially for his “Mauerbilder” (Wall Pictures) from the early 1920s. In 1922 , the Polish-born art historian and critic Waldemar George published works by Baumeister in the avant-garde magazine "L'Esprit Nouveau" edited by Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris) and Amedée Ozenfant. "If the work of Willy Baumeister deserves an extra article here", says Waldemar George, "it is because this artist is in all earnesty concerned with clarity. No traces of sentimentality can be found is in his panel- and wall paintings. Right angles and planes alone are the means of expression. His soberness and clear organization of the picture are honorable" (in: L'esprit nouveau 15, vol. 3, 1922, p. 1794, quoted from Baumeister - Dokumente, Texte, Gemälde, ed. by Götz Adriani, Tübingen 1971, p. 37.
The Belgian art critic, painter, and graphic artist Michel Seuphor (1901-1999) was an important force behind the scene. Together with Amédée Ozenfant, Le Corbusier, and Paul Dermée, he co-edited "L'Esprit Nouveau" between 1920 and 1925, mainly covering the French Modernism, especially Cubism. The publication asserted their claim to provide insight into contemporary trends in fine art, literature and architecture. It was not only a particular form of art that they strove to put forth by addressing themes such as industrial architecture, engineering, science and politics, but an entire attitude to life, a life centered on technology and anonymous mass production. As far as art was concerned, it represented the purism developed by its two founders, Le Corbusier and Ozenfant. Baumeister and the French shared this purism and its clear aesthetics: To develop a vision between standardized though not abstract pictorial formulas and the technicized present in the 'purified' form of Cubism with a strict geometric order.

In 1924, Baumeister traveled to Paris for the first time to meet fellow artists and friends of his art in person. The same year, L'Esprit Nouveau once again published one of his paintings in color. He moved to Paris in 1925 and became a close friend of Seuphor, who was an active mentor of the group "Cercle et Carré", founded in 1929, and also organized its first exhibition "L' Art d' Aujourd'hui", which featured works by Baumeister, Mondrian, Arp, Taeuber-Arp, Léger, Schwitters, Kandinsky, and Le Corbusier, artists working in the tradition of a 'purified' Cubism. The following year, Baumeister had his first solo exhibition in Paris at Galerie d'Art Contemporaine. "Over 40 pictures, many temperas, no sales, very much interest on the part of French painters and recognition, Léger, Corbusier, Lipschitz, W. George, Christian Zervos ..", Baumeister noted his impressions. (quoted from Baumeister - Dokumente, Texte, Gemälde, p. 69)
Baumeister's success in France at a time when French troops were occupying the Ruhr region to secure the coal deliveries as agreed upon in the Treaty of Versailles, weighed all the more on the interest in a German artist. A few years later, on April 19, 1931, Wassily Kandinsky wrote to Baumeister and other artists: "What is easy for a Frenchman is difficult for a German artist - to cross the border." (Letters to Willi Baumeister, Baumeister Archive). In the 1920s it was only Baumeister, Max Ernst, George Grosz, and Paul Klee who became known in France, especially in Paris.

The success in Paris also earned Baumeister a call to the venerable Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main, founded as an arts and crafts school in 1878. Its then director Fritz Wichert, previously director of the Mannheim Kunsthalle, justified the appointment at the end of 1927 with the remark that Baumeister belonged to ".. an art movement with the self-declared goal of clarity and the strictest regularity of pictorial appearance. This view corresponds to the goals of our school, also insofar as it can be harmonized with the aspirations of modern architecture in the best possible way". ( Until he was dismissed by the National Socialists in 1933, Baumeister would teach commercial art in Frankfurt alongside Max Beckmann, who taught painting from 1925 to 1931.

"Maschine grau mit Pfeil" from 1926 is a prime example of the success story of an artist, whose Machine- and Wall Pictures were honored at the 1927 ”Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung” in an extra room. Only a few of these paintings that show a complex, mechanized fantasy world found their way into museums, such as the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart or the Hamburger Kunsthalle; the 2002 catalogue raisonné by Peter Beye and Felicitas Baumeister, on the other hand, identifies most works from this outstanding museum-quality series as 'lost'. (MvL)


Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for Willi Baumeister "Maschine grau mit Pfeil II"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation, artist‘s resale right compensation is due.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.

Calculation of artist‘s resale right compensation:
For works by living artists, or by artists who died less than 70 years ago, a artist‘s resale right compensation is levied in accordance with Section 26 UrhG:
4 % of hammer price from 400.00 euros up to 50,000 euros,
another 3 % of the hammer price from 50,000.01 to 200,000 euros,
another 1 % for the part of the sales proceeds from 200,000.01 to 350,000 euros,
another 0.5 % for the part of the sale proceeds from 350,000.01 to 500,000 euros and
another 0.25 % of the hammer price over 500,000 euros.
The maximum total of the resale right fee is EUR 12,500.

The artist‘s resale right compensation is VAT-exempt.