Sale: 550 / Evening Sale, June 07. 2024 in Munich Lot 124000020


124000020
Karl Hofer
Zwei Frauen am Brunnen, 1940.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 150,000 - 250,000

 
$ 160,500 - 267,500

Information on buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation will be available four weeks before the auction.
Zwei Frauen am Brunnen. 1940.
Oil on canvas.
Lower right monogrammed (in ligature) and dated. 102.5 x 78.5 cm (40.3 x 30.9 in).


• Hofer's unique portraits of enraptured girls are among the artist's most compelling creations.
• Captivating visualization of a sentiment: a particularly expressive melancholy.
• The combination of figure portraits and vast landscapes, as well as nudity and disguise, gives the complex composition a subtle tension.
• Hofer's presentation of an enigmatic encounter and the symbolism he uses allow for political, historical, biographical and iconographic associations.
• Consistent provenance: acquired directly from the artist.
• Part of a private collection in the Rhineland for three generations.
• In 2022, part of the acclaimed exhibition "Kunst für keinen" at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt am Main
.

PROVENANCE: Private collection Rhineland (acquired from the artist in Berlin in 1940/41).
Ever since family-owned.

EXHIBITION: Kunst für keinen, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt am Main, March 4 - June 6, 2022, p. 290 (illu. on p. 179).

LITERATURE: Karl Bernhard Wohlert, Karl Hofer. Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde, vol. 2, Cologne 2008, no. 1482 (illu. in black and white).

"It is always gratifying to see a Hofer work belived to have been destroyed during the war suddenly turns out to be in good condition."

Karl Bernhard Wohlert, author of the catalogue raisonné about the work offered here in a private letter from January 21, 2000.

Melancholy and “quiet beauty”. Hofer's figure paintings
“There is no doubt that Karl Hofer made his greatest accomplishment in figure painting”, wrote Dr. Frank Schmidt, former director of the Emden Kunsthalle, in the catalog for the 2012 exhibition “Karl Hofer. Von Lebensspuk und stiller Schönheit” (p. 92)
With his timeless, withdrawn and yet gracefully melancholic depictions, Karl Hofer is one of the great loners of 20th century art. In their almost austere clarity and organized composition, his paintings are often classified as Expressive Realism, while their tranquillity and stillness bring them close to New Objectivity.
The artist always shows his mostly female protagonists in a moment of contemplation characteritzed by an elusive emotion, the source of which remains obscure to the viewer, as the painting itself provides no narrative.

Disaffection in society
In “Zwei Frauen am Brunnen” (Two Women at the Fountain), the artist shows two characteristic female “Hofer types” with almond-shaped eyes, pale complexion and pointed chins standing at a fountain that is supposed to be a connecting element, while Hofer uses it to highlight a boundary: a visual barrier that divides the scene and separates the figures from one another. Hofer moves the figures close to the picture's front edge, but despite their physical closeness, there is no sign of any exchange between the two women. This statuesque immobility, devoid of any emotions, makes for a clear contrast to the subtle, erotic sensuality of the almost naked sitter with a classical look on the right and the woman on the left, who appears quite modern for the time with her colorful and revealing clothes, looking demonstratively past her in a self-confident posture and a cool, almost frozen gaze.
Retrospection and modernity
Hofer's oeuvre reflects a deep interest in art history, which he repeatedly refers to in subtle ways. The headscarf so characteristic of his figure canon may be reminiscent of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hofer's readers of Jan Vermeer and his table parties may recall Dutch genre paintings. In his writings on art theory, the term “selection” is used in this context: Hofer chooses a traditional motif from art history, but does not follow in its entirety, instead he makes it entirely his own - as in the work offered here. With a formal reduction to essential pictorial elements, highly modern motifs and introspective figures, the artist succeeds in transferring the subject into his very own contemporary visual language, making it a universally valid representation.
His intention is always an artistic generalization, the depiction of a universally valid definition of the concept of beauty and a visualization of a mood: the melancholy of the years of hardship so familiar to him.
Escaping a tragic fate
At the beginning of World War II in 1939, Hofer returned to Berlin from the Ticino, his adopted home at the time. The background of our painting, created shortly afterwards, is still reminiscent of the Ticino landscape he had left behind: What remains is a wistful pictorial retrospective of an irretrievably lost past. In 1943, Hofer's Berlin studio and almost all of the paintings in it were destroyed in air raids. The painting's former owner and his wife were killed by a bomb in 1945, but the painting remained in the family's possession for the ensuing 70 years. [CH]



124000020
Karl Hofer
Zwei Frauen am Brunnen, 1940.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 150,000 - 250,000

 
$ 160,500 - 267,500

Information on buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation will be available four weeks before the auction.