"Composition # 89", 1956
Oil on canvas
36.02 x 42.13 in / framed 42.13 x 47.64 in
Signed verso, dated, titled
- with handmade craftsman's frame -
Über das Werk
Born in the German town of Esslingen in 1892, Adolf Richard Fleischmann did not find his distinctive visual language until he had reached the age of 60. And it is his later works, dating from the period between 1950 and 1965, which form the main body of his output and which have garnered him such international acclaim. His work systematically explores the reduced geometrical elementary form of the right-angle, rendered here with a single narrow brushstroke. Through constant repetition, he fuses this form into ever new rhythms and chromatic tonalities. In this present work "Composition # 89, from the 1956 dark birch-series", these meticulously painted basic shapes are arranged horizontally. At the same time, the coloured elements create a conspicuous - also L-shaped - pictorial centre, surrounded by white forms. Superimposed upon the horizontal bands are vertical strips, with which Fleischmann not only fashions an unequivocally “centred” composition, but, under his pictorial concept, poses a fascinating counterpoint to the "all-over" structure of American painting in the 1950s and 60s. The result is a vibrating grid, exercising a strong spatial impact. However, it must not be forgotten that Fleischmann, who emigrated to New York himself in 1952, drew much inspiration from local arts scene in moulding his own artistic concept. Consequently his work over the ensuring period can be seen as prefiguring European Op-Art. The paint Fleischmann applies onto the canvas is usually very dry, and frequently the ground bleeds through to the surface. Through the rigorous repetition of his forms, he forges a vibrant, almost poetical spectrum of colour. This composition speaks to contemplation as spatial vibration of emotional expressivity and lyrical power.