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Monday, October 11, 2010

An Introspective look at Artist Werner Drewes

Werner Drewes was born on July 27, 1899 in Germany. During his youth, he attended the Bauhaus, a German art institution famous for its approach to design. Drewes studied alongside famed artists Klee and Kandinsky. He completed his time at the Bauhaus in 1929 and emigrated to the United States in 1930. The years of the great depression hurt most, but Drewes flourished when he first settled in New York City. Known for his printmaking, he taught his craft at the Brooklyn Museum School. He also taught at Columbia University, and later at Washington University in St. Louis.

Werner Drewes, Thanksgiving, 1969

Influenced by Kandinsky, Drewes’ paintings were abstract and full of bright color. He also involved elements of Cubism in many of his creations. The painting below, entitled Collage #304, functions as a cubist inspired piece. Collage,first introduced by Pablo Picasso, was startling to critics of the time for its intent to heighten the importance of craft to that of “high art” and all together abolish the hand of the artist. In Drewes Collage #304, he uses a dynamic composition, with strong diagonals and geometry to excite the viewer. Bright solid colors becomes the subject matter here.

Drewes, Collage #304, 1977.

Drewes’ use of color is a defining characteristic of his style, where bold blocks of color combine with abstract shapes. His compositions became increasingly more abstracted as the years went on. After retiring from teaching, Drewes settled in Virginia and stayed there until his death in 1985. During this time, the artist was recognized with a number of exhibitions at major galleries, and even a retrospective devoted entirely to his printmaking at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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