10/6/10

Theodor Baierl, Knight Approached by Death



Date: c. 1918
Technique: Coloured pencil on paper, 65.50 x 72.50 cm

This work is based on Albrecht Dürer’s copper engraving The Knight, Death and The Devil, 1513-4. Baierl’s oil painting of the subject is in a private collection, London.

… Theodor Baierl’s main love, though, remains the technique of fresco painting. A few characteristic examples of these are: the Apse of the Maximilian Church in Munich, the altar paintings and stations of the cross in the City Church of Pfersee near Augsburg, the apse-paintings for the City Church of Schweinfurt and an altar painting, which also functions as a war memorial, in the Fugger Chapel near Kirchheim in Swabia. It can be seen how these works, which decorate interiors in an early style, are completely compatible to their surroundings. The ability of an artist to achieve this sense of history, which Baierl has proven, deserves special praise.
The State has been the foremost patron for his fresco painting. Additional commissions came from aristocracy. This patronage changed drastically after the War and Baierl had to "re-orientate". The only way out was easel art. But it was not easy for someone who came from mural design to find the right path. Baierl immediately found himself in the midst of all the of the controversies over the style and direction of contemporary art. Initially he took stock of the mainstream and exhibited to a surprised audience at a group-show at the Glass Palace a mixture of naturalism (the nude etc), expressionism and archaism. The extraordinary point being that he had mastered all three styles to perfection and nobody, at least initially, was able to recognise the real Baierl. He soon realised, after briefly experimenting with expressionism, that, at least for him, that route would end in an empty cul-de-sac and that Naturalism was only a means to another dead end - "the look and paint tradition". So he started where he had finished: with the tradition of the masters of the second half of the 15th century. And his aim was to travel further on their path. And should he fail commercially, at least he would perpetuate antiquity
.

(Extracted from Richard Braungart, Die Kunst fur Alle (Art for Everybody), number 39 1923-4, page 161)

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