Mar 14, 2024 - Sale 2662

Sale 2662 - Lot 298

Price Realized: $ 16,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 15,000 - $ 20,000
Straatbeeld met paard en wagen (Street Scene with Horse and Cart).

Unique hand stamped and stencil printed druksel in watercolor and gouache on wove paper, 1943. 510x327 mm; 20¼x13 inches. Signed and dated in ink, lower right recto.

This work is registered with the Werkman Archief, Groninger Museum, Groningen.

Provenance: A. J. Gefroerer, Amsterdam; Catherine Kouguell, New York; thence by descent to the current collection.

Werkman (1882-1945) was an experimental Dutch artist, typographer and printer. Born in Groningen, in the early 1900s he established a thriving printing and publishing business which was forced to close in 1923 due to financial setbacks. Thereafter, Werkman began working again as a self-taught experimental artist, printer and designer. He was a member of the artists' group De Ploeg ("The Plough"), for whom he printed posters, invitations and catalogues, and through this group had contacts with other avant-garde artists including Theo van Doesburg, Kurt Schwitters, El Lissitzky and Michel Seuphor.

During the 1920s-30s, Werkman developed many experimental printing and design techniques. According to the Groninger Museum, which holds a significant collection of Werkman's work, "The printing press became his artistic tool when he started experimenting with it in 1923 in the first of a long series of prints (druksels). He developed a unique technique using the printing material, the ink roller and the hand press. Later, he expanded his expressive capabilities with the use of templates and stamping techniques. Werkman's total oeuvre comprises more than 2000 works, including paintings, watercolours, graphics, drawings and printed matter. But the prints constitute the core of his oeuvre. Werkman printed the earliest of these in small editions, but the vast majority are unique pieces, most of which, some four hundred, date from 1940-1945." Another of his experimental techniques was the painstaking production of abstract designs using the typewriter, which he called tiksels. After 1929 he also began writing rhythmic sound poems.

In May 1940, soon after the German invasion of the Netherlands, Werkman started a clandestine publishing house, De Blauwe Schuit ("The Blue Barge"), which issued some forty different publications, each designed and illustrated by Werkman. These included a series of Hassidic stories from the legend of the Baal Shem Tov, for the publishing of which he ran afoul of the Nazis. On March 13, 1945, the Gestapo arrested Werkman, executing him by firing squad along with nine other prisoners in the forest near Bakkeveen on April 10th, three days before Groningen was liberated. Many of his paintings and prints, which the Gestapo had confiscated, were lost in the fire that broke out during the battle over the city.