Xanti Schawinsky

The rediscovered oeuvre of Bauhaus artist Xanti Schawinsky offers to the contemporary art world a genuine reservoir of the aesthetic memory of 20th century avant-garde. Schawinsky’s highly original oeuvre covers a whole domain of genres and media so characteristic for the interdisciplinary approach of the Bauhaus school: his prolific practice spans from paintings to drawings, from experimental photography to stage design, from jazz music and pioneering theater work to exhibition design, commercial graphic and product design.

Born to a Jewish family of Polish decent in Switzerland, Alexander “Xanti” Schawinsky entered the Bauhaus in 1924. He was soon to become one of the most protean characters at the famed school. He initiated and inspired many activities at the Bauhaus with a verve that revealed him as a true performer, a modernist dandy and a Bauhaus protagonist par excellence. Theater became the very core of Schawinsky’s aesthetic universe throughout his life. In 1936 Schawinsky immigrated to U.S. called by Josef Albers to advance the theater department at the Black Mountain College.

With his concept Spectodrama, an early form of total theater and multi media performance, Schawinsky transferred the innovations of the Bauhaus theater to the young American avant-garde. Since the 1940s Schawinsky lived and worked in New York where he developed an aesthetic practice unique to the afterlife of the Bauhaus under the influence of the wartime and immigration.

In 1986 the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin held the first Xanti Schawinsky retrospective. Since 2012 a majority of the still existing oeuvre returned to the family of the artist. The newly founded Estate of Xanti Schawinsky represents now all phases of the artist’s practice from the 1920s – 1970s as well as an extensive archive vividly documenting the Bauhaus years and beyond in correspondences and manuscripts. The Estate and Curator Anke Kempkes of BROADWAY 1602 give now a new focus on reintroducing Xanti Schawinsky’s work to a contemporary international audience and in collaboration with upcoming institutional exhibitions.

 BROADWAY 1602 presents at Frieze Art Fair 2013 an introduction to Schawinsky’s work phases from the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College years, the 1940s in New York and work from the artist‘s enigmatic abstract painting cycle Eclipse from the 1960s.