WVZ Beye/Baumeister 0199

 The human makes a wall. The wall gives him the surface. The surface is the primordial means, the first elementary medium of painting. After the war, I produced simple pictures, proceeding from the wall, with the wall. Parts of it were raised relief-like, others were two-dimensional. I called these pictures "wall pictures". ... At the time I envisioned a new architecture that was not yet available as a carrier of these wall pictures, which were formed out of the elementary media.

At the end of the 1910s Willi Baumeister discovered the theater as another field for his artistic activity. Up to now Baumeister had been intensely occupied with painting. He increasingly distanced himself from the two-dimensional surface. His constructivist paintings of this time frequently manifest relief-like elements. As such, individual color planes or formal elements emerge haptically via the application of plaster or pieces of plywood.

WVZ Kermer 035

Early on Willi Baumeister caused a stir as a typographer and commercial designer. In the 1920s and early 1930s, he contributed a great deal to the development of typography and commercial art in Germany and Europe, not only though his practical works, but also through his theoretical writings. These can be traced throughout three and a half decades of his work. Even so, these fields of activity were underestimated and disregarded until long after his death.


Willi Baumeister's drawing oeuvre of around 2,300 known leaves is just as extensive as the painting oeuvre. In this case, only a few early drawings survive, since he himself later destroyed many works.

The etching as well as other etch (= eaten) and incising techniques play no appreciable role in Willi Baumeister's graphic print work. Merely nine known works exist - three apiece from 1943, 1947, and 1952.


Through exhibitions at the America Houses the silkscreen print technique became known in Germany after World War II. Willi Baumeister first visited one such exhibition in 1948 and recognized that some of his artistic intentions would be optimally realized by this means, particularly the use of color and printing without manual traces. With it, multiple colors - even white and black - could also be printed overlapping one another.


Between 1919 and 1943 lithography (along with the related offset printing) was the only original graphic printing method that Willi Baumeister used. By 1955 he had produced a total of 150 leaves that, in addition to the paintings, contribute important accents to the corresponding work phase.

Since at least in the initial years he achieved little definite character by chance in his works, he largely rejected the woodblock and linocut techniques as well as etching.


In relation to his paintings and drawings, Willi Baumeister's graphic print oeuvre occupies a modest space within his total production.