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Walter Dexel

München 1890 - Braunschweig 1973


Walter Dexel is one of the outstanding exponents of 1920s Constructivism. As a painter Dexel was an autodidact. He studied art history under Heinrich Wölfflin and Fritz Burger in Munich from 1910 to 1914. At the same time he received private drawing classes from H. Gröber. In 1916 Walter Dexel graduated from university with a doctorate under Botho Gräf.
In 1912/13 he produced his first pictures during a study trip to Italy. His early pictures were influenced by Cézanne's landscapes, with his later work being influenced by Cubism and Expressionism. In 1914 Dexel held his first individual exhibition with Cubist pictures at the "Galerie Dietzel" in Munich.
In 1918 Walter Dexel became head of exhibitions in Jena, where he organised first exhbitions with Campendonk and later with Bauhaus artists like Moholy-Nagy. In the early 1920s Dexel's work moves on to Constructivism, which he approaches in a comprehensive way.
Walter Dexel was not restricted to panel paintings but also worked as a typographer, an advertising designer and designed interiors and stage settings. In 1928 he wrote a book entitled "Das Wohnhaus von Heute" together with his wife Grete Dexel, which reflects the artist's interest in the issues of modern living, which the artist showed from an early age.
In 1921 he developed a close friendship with the Dutch De Stijl artist Théo van Doesburg. During the same year Dexel had several exhibitions at Herwarth Walden's Berlin gallery "Der Sturm".
From 1928 to 1935 Walter Dexel worked as a lecturer for graphic design at the Magdeburg "Kunstgewerbeschule". He was dismissed from his post in 1935 by the Nazis. That same year Walter Dexel gave up painting. After the war, the artist studied the history of the form of household appliances. Between 1942 and 1955 Walter Dexel assembled the "Historische Formensammlung" in Braunschweig and published numerous books on form. Under the influence of a retrospective exhibition at the Berlin gallery "Der Sturm", Walter Dexel began to work in art again in 1961, using 1920s form elements for his designs.
In 1973 Dexel died in Braunschweig at the age of 83.


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