© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Although never officially affiliated with the Bauhaus, Baumeister not only saw sculpture and painting, and painting and architecture, as related, but made no distinction between the fine and applied arts. The artist described his paintings from the early 1920s as originating from the wall and, a few years later, inserted such works directly into exhibition architecture. Head depicts a geometricized human head divided into two distinct halves. The neck terminates in a plaster rectangle like a platform on which a sculptural head might rest, but also refers to the wall behind it. On the left, rainbow-colored rectangles extend from the center like multicolored lenses from an eye. On the right, the graphite dashed lines originating from the crown of the head meet a vertical line marked with a bracket as if it were a measurement. Baumeister’s contemporaries welcomed his work after World War I as a kind of intuitive mathematics.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Willi Baumeister, German (Stuttgart, Germany 1889 - 1955 Stuttgart, Germany)
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Kopf
Work Type
Level 1, Room 1520, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art in Germany Between the Wars
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Oil, graphite, and plaster on canvas
40.3 x 30.5 cm (15 7/8 x 12 in.)
framed: 59.4 x 49.4 x 5 cm (23 3/8 x 19 7/16 x 1 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: stretcher verso t.l., black ink over graphite: G. SCHLEICHER // STUTTGART - N // HERM.KURZSTR.3
  • inscription: stretcher verso t.r., black ink: [first line of inscription illegible] // "KOPF 1920 // VERZEICHNISNR.149
  • inscription: stretcher verso l.c., blue ink: [?]SACH DER // [BA]UMEISTER - // [AU]SSTELLUNG // [?]0. JAHRE" //[?]UCK ERH. // 27.2.70 // [?] Herrn // R. Geissler // [?] von // ...OF BEYE // G.S. [left side of insciption covered by frame]
  • label: stretcher verso t.r., black ink: [incribed in black ink:] SAMMLUNG // [stamped in black ink:] Gustav Schleicher // Stuttgart N // Hermann-Kurz-Str. [right side of label covered by frame]
Gustav Schleicher, Stuttgart. [Sotheby's Deutschland, Munich, "Deutsche Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts," 27 November 1992, lot 75], sold. [Galerie Gunzenhauser, Munich]. Private collection, Hamburg, consigned; [Villa Grisebach, Berlin, "Auction No. 43: Selected Works," 26 May 1995, lot 60], sold; to DaimlerChrysler, Stuttgart, 1995, gift; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 2003.
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Beye/Baumeister 256
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of DaimlerChrysler in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Busch-Reisinger Museum
© Willi Baumeister / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Will Grohmann, Willi Baumeister: Life and Work, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1966), p. 266, no. 149

Peter Beye and Felicitas Baumeister, Willi Baumeister: Werkkatalog der Gemälde II, Hatje Cantz Verlag (Stuttgart, Germany, 2002), p. 114, no. 256

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 127

Exhibition History

Re-View: European and American Art Since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/03/2011 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu