The large-format watercolour "Near Wangen" depicts the enchanting panoramic view from atop a hill on the Höri peninsular, high above Lower Lake Constance and looking out onto the Swiss banks opposite where the rising and partly forested Thurgau Lake Ridge obscures the Alps in the far distance. In the middle ground, the promontory of the "Wangener Horn", covered with poplar trees, protrudes into the lake. In the summer of 1944, following the destruction of his Berlin studio in the war, Erich Heckel found a new home here. Thanks to the good offices of his friend and art historian Walter Kaesbach, who had been living on Höri since 1933, Erich and Siddi Heckel succeeded in finding temporary accommodation in the small fishing and farming village of Wangen, near Lake Constance, before then taking possession of a somewhat larger residence in the neighbouring village of Hemmenhofen in the autumn of 1944. In the ensuing period Heckel focused intensively on the rural environs and largely pristine natural environment. In numerous paintings and watercolours he captured the serene atmosphere of this remote landscape and the changing light of the passing seasons and different times of day.
Characteristic of Heckel's landscape depictions from the 1920s onwards are such panoramic vistas, and a diversity of motifs, allied to his keen instinct for divining the quintessence of a landscape as evidenced in this present sheet from 1945. Expansive simplifications of form and a harmonious tranquillity define Heckel's visual language, which compared to the turbulent expressivity of the "Bridge" period was markedly more tempered. Yet the painter still continues to trust in the formative power of the immediate visual experience as his decisive creative impulse.
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