© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Willi Baumeister, German (Stuttgart, Germany 1889 - 1955 Stuttgart, Germany)
Archaic Group of Figures
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Figurengruppe archaisch
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Charcoal, and black chalk with stumping and erasing on brown modern laid paper
26.5 x 36 cm (10 7/16 x 14 3/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: in graphite at l.r.: Baumeister 43
Stephen D. Paine Collection, Boston, gift; Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1967
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Ponert 1433
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen D. Paine
© Willi Baumeister / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Label Text: Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55 , written 2018
As evidenced by the lacquer panels on view nearby, Baumeister found opportunities to work even as Nazi cultural agencies forbade him to create or exhibit art. However, when an aerial attack damaged his home and studio, the artist was forced to move with his family to a small guesthouse near the Swabian Alps. Confined to cramped living conditions, Baumeister turned to drawing; between April and December 1943, he made over 480 works in that medium—a fifth of his lifetime drawing oeuvre. Working on small sheets of paper, he nonetheless employed a wide range of techniques in charcoal, graphite, and pencil. He captured the texture of available materials such as wooden boxes, glass windows, and textiles through frottage, or rubbing. After the war, Baumeister translated effects from his drawing practice into painting: in Red Horizon (with Marbleization)(TL41847.2), he applied white paint next to black linear figures to lend them a more three-dimensional appearance, similar to the one he had previously achieved by removing areas of charcoal with an eraser.

Publication History

Dietmar Jürgen Ponert, Willi Baumeister: Werkverzeichnis der Zeichnungen Gouachen und Collagen, DuMont (Köln, Germany, 1988), cat. no. 1433

Lynette Roth and Ilka Voermann, Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2018), pp. 143-145, cat. no. 6.2, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

Works from the 20th Century Collection of the Busch-Reisinger, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 09/23/1980 - 10/24/1980

19th- and 20th-Century Works on Paper from the Permanent Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 02/08/1982

Aspects of Art in West Germany, 1945-1965, Harvard University Art Museums, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 08/22/1992 - 10/18/1992

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

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