Oskar Schlemmer

Biography of Oskar Schlemmer, The Complete Artist

Oskar schlemmerHe was a very complete and advanced artist for his time. He developed several disciplines, dedicating himself to various fields related to art, among which the painter, choreographer, dancer, sculptor, designer, puppeteer, librettist, university professor and photographer stand out.

This magnificent artist was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on September 4, 1888. He was the son of Carl Leonhard Schlemmer and Mina Neuhaus, who passed away orphaned Oskar and his five older siblings.

In 1920, he married Helena Tutein.

Table of Contents

Studies and career path

Oskar did not have an easy life. From a very young age, he had to support himself, so he began to work as an apprentice in an inlay workshop, and later, in a marquetry workshop. This he did from 1905 to 1909. At the same time, he carried out his studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule Y in the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, where he received a scholarship, in the city of Stuttgart. There he was under the tutelage of the painters Friedrich von Keller and Christian Landenberger.

In 1910 he transferred to Berlin. Where he worked for the Herwarth Walden gallery, as an independent painter until 1912, when he returned to his hometown.

His activity in the artistic world had a pause, between the years 1914 and 1918, due to the fact that he enlisted to work as a cartographer, in the fight during the First World War, resulting in injuries on numerous occasions.

Schlemmer, became a disciple of Adolf Hölzel, who is one of the first artists dedicated to abstraction. During this period, he had the experience of establishing contact with great artists such as Johannes Itten, Otto Meyer-Amden and Willi Baumeister. The latter, considered by Oskar as the great friend with whom he would establish a friendship for life.

Before the start of the war, between 1913 and 1914, Oskar Schlemmer started and directed an art salon, located in the Neckartor area. In the same year 1914, together with Hermann Stenner and Willi Baumeister, he also carried out the design of some murals for the German Federation of Labor, which would be placed in the main room of the Deutscher Werkbund from Cologne.

In 1920, he began working in the Bauhaus school in Weimar as a teacher of painting and sculpture, summoned by Walter Gropius. At first he worked in the mural sculpture workshop, and later, in the sculpture workshop. Later, in 1923, he began working as a teacher in the theater workshop.

In Dessau, Oskar created rehearsal theaters and continued his investigation of the fundamental elements for creation and configuration in the theater: tone, color, light, harmony, movement and form. He also worked in the Wroclaw Academy and in the Berlin Academy.

Later, Nazism removed him from his teaching career. In 1933 he moved to Switzerland. When he returned to Germany, he entered the Reich Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturkammer), but the exhibition he held there was denounced and considered “degenerate art”.

Later, Schlemmer, became a disciple of Adolf Hölzel, who is one of the first artists to dedicate himself to abstraction. During this period, he had the opportunity to enjoy the experience of making contact with great artists such as Johannes Itten, Otto Meyer-Amden and Willi Baumeister. The latter, considered by Oskar as the great friend with whom he would establish a friendship for life.

He worked in a painters supply store in Stuttgart. There he did a number of jobs that had to do with paint and enamel. Also, between 1939 and 1940, he was in charge of the camouflage of the barracks.

Starting in 1940, he began testing with lacquer in a factory.


After completing his studies, Schlemmer began to paint Cubist works influenced by Cézanne.

His artistic career represents his innovative mind, in his performance as a choreographer and designer in the theater and ballet.

The most characteristic theme of his works is “the human figure as an essential form due to its rigorous stereometric composition”, which he applies in his paintings and wall reliefs.

His most famous work and that made him known internationally, is the Triadisches Ballett, premiered in 1922 in Stuttgart, a montage where the actors are disguised in geometric shapes and was represented by a genre such as pantomime. For this project, he used his ingenuity to design the costumes that limited the free movements of the dancers, who resembled architectural structures that induced them to perform comic and awkward movements. Due to the characteristics that distinguished the suits, regarding the weight of the materials that were glass and metal, the masks and the forms. that were inspiration in the suits that the military wore. These details were known to him during the time he participated in the war.

You can see the complete work of Triadisches Ballett below in this video:

The Slat Dance and TreppenwitzIn this work, the costumes of the performers make them look like living sculptures, giving the impression of being part of the stage accessories.

In 1938, she made the costumes for Blonde Marie with Trudi Schoop. This was one of his works in the field of dance.

He performed series of dances, such as the construction game, the walk of the boxes Y the form or dance of the gesture.

Oskar Schlemmer’s first exhibition was presented at the London gallery, in the year 1937.

Her death and after her

Oskar Schlemmer died on April 13, 1943 in the German city of Baden-Baden. He died, marked by Nazism as a “degenerate artist.” But, despite the sad end of his life, he gave us a whole universe of amazing figures, his surprising decorations and images difficult to consider real. In conclusion, Oskar’s art is truly surprising for the time and no one who appreciates art can be indifferent to such a spectacle.

On the other hand, it can be said that the inheritance of his important artistic style was not only in his works, but has been taken by great artists such as David Bowie. In the same way, many of the representatives of the later theater, got their bases in the repertoire of forms used by Oskar in the elements of the scenography.

You may also be interested in reading:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *