© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Willi Baumeister, German (Stuttgart, Germany 1889 - 1955 Stuttgart, Germany)
Growth of the Crystals II
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Wachstum der Kristalle II
Former Title: Metaphysische Landschaft (Metaphysical Landscape)
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Oil with resin and putty on hardboard
81 × 100 cm (31 7/8 × 39 3/8 in.)
framed: 94.3 × 113 × 5.9 cm (37 1/8 × 44 1/2 × 2 5/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l.: W. Baumeister 47
  • label: On verso, l.l.: 238 atelier / willi baumeister
  • inscription: On verso, in charcoal: Metaphysische Landschaft [crossed out] / 1948 - (52) / 100 x 81 / Wachstum der Kristalle II
  • label: On verso, u.l. on foam label: Wachstum der Kristalle II / 1947/52 / Öl auf Karton
  • label: On verso, u.l.: Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno / No. Prestamo AUT 92016 / Autor Baumeister / Titulo Wachstum der Kristalle II / Medidas 81 x 100. / Exposicion Automatismos II / Fecha 11.2.92 / 29.3.92 / Procendencia Stuttgart Alemania / No. Caja 52
  • label: On verso, u.c.: CFM [graphic] / Wachstum der Kristalle 1948 / koh 49
  • label: On verso, u.c.: [lantern graphic] Willi Baumeister / Wachstum der Kristalle II / 1947-52 / BB 1391, 81 x 100 cm.
  • inscription: On verso, u.l., in black ink on white tape: Essen
The artist, by bequest; to the Baumeister Estate, gift/sale; to the Busch-Reisinger Museum, 2016.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Partial gift of Felicitas Baumeister and Jochen Gutbrod and purchase through the generosity of the German Friends 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
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Label Text: Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55 , written 2018
The most prominent advocate of abstract painting in Germany after the war, Baumeister likened abstraction to science. Both, he argued in his writings, reveal aspects of the natural world otherwise unseen by the human eye. Part of the Metaphysical Landscapes series that
Baumeister made from 1944 to 1954, this painting boasts cheerful colors and a vibrant surface that have often been interpreted as a reflection of the artist’s optimistic attitude after the end of World War II and his years of artistic isolation at the hands of the Nazi regime. While the painting’s composition, colors, and title refer to a bright future, the technique and style used to create it—along with its combination of arched, cloud-like, and crystalline shapes—are deeply rooted in Baumeister’s past, including his long-standing interest in technical experimentation. The thick, plastic texture of the putty paste used here, for example, allowed him to work the surface using different tools, including brushes, spatulas, and combs.

Publication History

Juergen Thimme, Baumeister und Winter, Numero (1953), Vol. 3, pp. 22-23, pp. 22-23, ill. (b/w)

Will Grohmann, Willi Baumeister: Leben und Werk, DuMont Schauberg (Cologne, 1963), p. 111, no. 1075, ill. (b/w)

Ursula Beerhorst, "Studien zur Maltechnik von Willi Baumeister 1920-1955" (1987), pp. 25, 30, 79, ill. (b/w)

Yule F. Heibel, Reconstructing the Subject: Modernist Painting in Western Germany, 1945-1950, Princeton University Press (Princeton, New Jersey, 1995), ill. no. III, col. ill.

Peter Beye and Felicitas Baumeister, Willi Baumeister: Werkkatalog der Gemälde II, Hatje Cantz Verlag (Stuttgart, Germany, 2002), p. 546, no. 1391, ill. (b/w)

Richard Calvocoressi, "Before and After the Fall", Gagosian Quarterly, Gagosian Gallery, New York (New York, 2018), p. 131, ill. (color)

Claire Messud, "German Art, Out of the Rubble", New York Review of Books (New York, NY, 2018)

Cate McQuaid, "'Inventur' looks at German art in the wake of WWII", The Boston Globe (Boston, MA, 2018)

Lynette Roth and Ilka Voermann, Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2018), pp. front cover (detail), 240-242, cat. no. 26.1, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

Zeugnisse europäischer Gemeinsamkeit–Meisterwerke der Malerei und Plastik aus europäischen Museen und Privatsammlungen, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, 06/18/1954 - 07/30/1954

Pittura della Germania d’oggi. Baumeister, Bode, Geiger, Nay, Sonderborg, Thieler, Werner, Winter, Galleria del Milione, 05/01/1957 - 05/31/1957

Willi Baumeister zum Gedächtnis, Galerie Gunther Francke, 06/04/1958 - 06/30/1958

Willi Baumeister, Fränkische Galerie, 01/01/1960 - 02/28/1960

ZEN 49: Die ersten zehn Jahre - Orientierungen, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, 12/06/1986 - 02/15/1987

L'Art en Europe, Les années décisives 1945-1953, Musée d’Art Moderne Saint Etienne, 12/10/1987 - 02/28/1988

Willi Baumeister, Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, 04/07/1989 - 05/28/1989

Willi Baumeister: Malarstwo i grafika, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, 01/01/1990 - 12/31/1990

Willi Baumeister: Malerei und Grafik, Galerie am Fischmarkt Erfut, 09/21/1991 - 11/03/1991; Lindenau-Museum Altenburg, 11/07/1991 - 01/12/1992

Automatismos Paralelos: La Europa de los Movimientos Experimentales 1944-1956, Sala de Exposiciónes de la Comunidad de Madrid, 04/01/1992 - 05/31/1992

32Q: 1200 Mid-Century Abstraction I (Painterly Abstraction), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/07/2017 - 01/10/2018

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

Related Works

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