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Adolf Fleischmann

Darkness within the Blue, 1956

Oil on canvas

76 x 63 cm

© Artist

Photo: Gerhard Sauer


Adolf Fleischmann is one of those painters who contributed to the ongoing development of Constructivism and geometrical abstraction in early 20th century painting. Like Oskar Schlemmer and Willi Baumeister, he studied under Adolf Hölzel at the academy in Stuttgart. His early period dating before 1945 was largely lost however during the Second World War, because the artist’s life from 1933 onwards was dominated by flight and emigration. From 1938 to 1952 he lived in France, where he joined the Résistance and spent several spells in detention camps. The few existing works of his from the 1920s to 1940s testify to an intensive study of Cubism and Constructivism, with his later paintings being dominated by sweeping circular and spiral shapes.


Around 1950 Adolf Fleischmann made a breakthrough in Paris that heralded a new period in his work. He had discovered the work of Mondrian and his purist concept of horizontal-vertical rhythms done in the primary colours plus black and white, which he regarded as an essential expression of life. The resulting works were done according to a new pattern whose modules Fleischmann varied almost obsessively: horizontal lines set parallel to one another are interrupted and joined together to form planar, interlocking angular shapes. Often the colours become lighter and more intense towards the middle. Then to conclude vertical bars are added, intersecting the horizontal striped structure at regular intervals. They serve as plumblines that create balance on the frontmost level, and later come to dominate the entire picture surface. The exactly painted stripes, which follow on close from one another, create a gentle vibratory motion. But unlike Op Art, Fleischmann dispensed with ruler and masking tape. His work continued to be determined by painterly values, “peinture pure”, thus lending it a personal signature.


Darkness within the Blue was done in 1956 when Adolf Fleischmann had already spent four years in New York. As in Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie from 1942/43, the rigour of the composition and the colours is married with a pulsating syncopated rhythm – influenced by his experiences in the New World. But compared to Mondrian’s painting, only a few spots of red, white and yellow light brighten the labyrinthine orchestra of Darkness within the Blue; apart from which, the ochre, pink and brown tones are muted. The dominance of the blue shot with black creates a melancholy, mellow mood – as in the blues.


Adolf Fleischmann

1892 born in Esslingen am Neckar

1968 died in Stuttgart