Composition with Four Figures

Oskar Schlemmer1936

Kunsthalle Bremen

Kunsthalle Bremen
Bremen, Germany

The painting Composition with Four Figures, a small-format work for this artist, was done when Oskar Schlemmer had already officially withdrawn from the German art scene and had begun to live in “inner emigration.” The walls the artist had painted at the Staatliche Akademie für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe in Breslau (present- day Wrocäaw) had been destroyed by the Nazis as early as 1930. Despite all hardships, in 1932, he created what is his bestknown work today, the Bauhaus Stairway, which has been housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York since 1933. In 1936, Schlemmer took up this motif once again, this time in darker tones. The figures are no longer strongly outlined, but rather emerge from the picture ground here and there in fragments, in loosely placed traces of the brush, only to disappear again. Their existence seems fragile, and they shift between light and shadow. The painting reflects the threat to Schlemmer’s existence during this period. With the Nazis’ rise to power, this father of three children had been dismissed from his teaching post at the Vereinigte Staatsschulen für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe in Berlin. In 1937, his art was condemned as “degenerate” by the Nazis.


  • Title: Composition with Four Figures
  • Creator: Oskar Schlemmer
  • Date Created: 1936
  • Physical Dimensions: 50.3 x 25.9 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Oil paint on oil paper

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