Oct 26, 2011 - Sale 2258

Sale 2258 - Lot 423

Price Realized: $ 3,120
Show Hammer Price?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
Composition VIII -- The Two Fighters Fight.

Woodcut on Japan paper, 1934. 318x236 mm; 12 1/2x9 1/4 inches, full margins. Edition of 20. Signed and dated in pencil, lower right. From 10 Blockprints by Drewes. A superb, evenly-printed impression.

Werner Drewes (1899-1985) studied at the Weimar Bauhaus from 1921-22 with Paul Klee and Johannes Itten, and later painting with Wassily Kandinsky and the graphic arts with László Moholy-Nagy at the Dessau Staatliches Bauhaus from 1927-28. By 1930, as the pressures of pursuing abstract art intensified (seen as degenerate by the Nazis), Drewes emigrated to New York. At the Brooklyn Museum of Art under the Federal Art Programs, he became an instructor in drawing, eventually rising to the director of the large graphic arts section in New York City from 1940-41. Around this time, he worked at the newly re-established Atelier 17 under the direction of Hayter.

This woodcut is one of 10 woodcuts (another is lot 424) that were originally part of the portfolio "It Can't Happen Here". Drewes made unequicoval reference through title and distorted swastika, which adorns the portfolio cover, to the nascent Nazism abroad and the hopes for his newly adopted country. However politically charged these woodcuts appeared in 1934, they were surpassed by their artistic ingenuity. As a summation of the artist's visual understanding of Bauhaus principles, these entirely abstract black and white compositions are among the first completely abstracted graphic works produced in the United States. Rose 94.