"Stilleben mit Äpfeln in weißer Schale mit blauem Glas (Still Life with Apples in a White Bowl with Blue Glass)", 1925
Oil on cardboard
Expertise Rainer Noeres on 10.03.2018,
Otto Modersohn Museum, Fischerhude
- with craftsman's frame -
Currently out on loan in the exhibition "Otto Modersohn - die Stillleben",
at Otto Modersohn Museum, 19.4. - 23. 6. 2019
In this still life from 1925, a white fruit bowl, a terrine, a blue glass, seven apples and a ceramic figurine are closely arranged across a red-brown table cloth. Both the fruit and the terrine are cropped at the lower and left-and edges respectively, whilst the objects within the main compositional framework appear to float in space.
Whereas his wife Paula Modersohn-Becker would usually paint the items featured in her still lifes without shadow, affording them volume and plasticity through her use of colour and the structured application of paint, Otto Modersohn applies highlights and subtle changes in the tonal values of light and shadow to define the volume.
The apples appear to be from his own tree, whereas the blue glass and the fruit bowl are probably souvenirs from his trip to Italy, and the splendid terrine with the gold rim is turned into a flower pot for an unidentifiable collection of pines. A thoroughly unconventional arrangement, whose internal relationship is only revealed through the accomplished execution of the painting.
In the mid-1920s Otto Modersohn began experimenting with various painting grounds. Sometimes he preferred lightly-glued cotton cloth, other times an absorbent ground which lent the colours a certain opacity or, as is the case here, a weakly absorbent half-chalk ground on cardboard, pre-primed by the famous suppliers of artists' material Schoenfeld & Co. He found that the half-chalk ground afforded greater presence to the painting process itself. The brush strokes remained visible on the bright, seemingly transparent surface, thus revealing his distinct painterly signature. On this ground, the colours assume a deeper radiance, which lends the still life a certain opulence and does justice to the depicted motif.
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