© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Fritz Winter, German (Altenbögge near Unna 1905 - 1976 Herrsching am Ammersee)
Figuration in Front of Blue
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Figuration vor Blau
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
136.5 x 146.5 cm (53 3/4 x 57 11/16 in.)
framed: 140.8 x 151.1 x 4.4 cm (55 7/16 x 59 1/2 x 1 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: on recto at l.l.: F Winter 53
  • inscription: verso, l.l., upside down, black crayon, German, signed, in artist's hand: Figuration vor Blau / F Winter 53
The artist, sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1955, transfer; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1965
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Lohberg 1408
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Association Fund
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Label Text: Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55 , written 2018
The first years after Winter’s release from a Russian POW camp in 1949 were marked by artistic experimentation. He returned to the technique he had developed during the war of making unique prints, or monotypes, while also working with stencils and exploring the application of paint directly from the tube or by dripping. In the early 1950s, Winter increasingly abandoned these experiments to focus on composition, concentrating primarily on the relation between line and color. Figuration in Front of Blue is a prime example of Winter’s “ribbon sign pictures” (Bandzeichenbilder), each of which is dominated by a calligraphic black figure in front of a colored background. It may at first seem spontaneous in execution, but the painting in fact represents a conscious attempt to balance static and dynamic elements. Winter used a drained oil paint, likely applying it to an absorbent surface to wick much of the oil binder away, leaving the
resulting surface matte.

Publication History

Charles L. Kuhn, German Expressionism and Abstract Art, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1957), no p., cat. no. 100. b/w ill.

Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 18, repr.

Gabriele Lohberg, Fritz Winter, Leben und Werk: mit Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde und einem Anhang der sonstigen Techniken, Bruckmann Verlag (Munich, Germany, 1986), cat. no. 1408, b/w ill.

Shuichi Kato, Geheimnis Japan, Orbis Verlag (Munich, Germany, 2001), p. 25, color repr.

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. 70

Lynette Roth and Ilka Voermann, Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2018), pp. 362-364, cat. no. 51.1, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

Contemporary Art: Loans and Recent Acquisitions, Fogg Art Museum, 04/12/1955 - 05/23/1955

PICTURE OF THE MONTH, University of Florida, 05/01/1960 - 06/01/1960

19th- and 20th-Century Paintings and Sculpture from the Museum's Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/11/1980 - 08/31/1980

German Painting 1760-1960: A New Installation, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 12/20/1983 - 02/19/1984

32Q: 1200 Mid-Century Abstraction I (Painterly Abstraction), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/30/2015 - 04/06/2016

Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/09/2018 - 06/03/2018

Subjects and Contexts

The Bauhaus

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