A seasonal performance with roots in folk drama and masque, this is the season for mummery. In costume characters give broadly comic performances, including competitive versifying. Two characters vie for honors and when on is finally vanquished a doctor administers a magic potion and all ends well.
Colorful and humorous, Winter Mummery by Werner Drewes evokes a centuries old celebration familiar to to the artist from his German childhood. Two figures resemble friendly knights jousting, in a style a bit like that of Paul Klee. Although painted in 1945, Winter Mummery feels contemporary in the way it mixes up picture planes in lighthearted fashion.
Werner Drewes (1899-1985) studied art in Stuttgart before joining the Weimar Bauhaus, a school founded a century ago this year. Nineteen nineteen was an auspicious year, the war had ended and Weimar was to be the capitol of a new German Republic. The very air was an elixir, to breath it was to inhale the scent of exciting new possibilities. For their part, members of the Bauhaus practiced the integration of artists and craftspeople. This continues to exert a profound influence in the art world; we are still living in the world the Bauhaus made.
That the people he worked and studied with are now better known than Drewes is an unfortunate oversight. Drewes studied with Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer at the Weimar Bauhaus. He traveled the world with his wife Margarete before finally settling in New York. There Kandinsky introduced him to Katherine Dreier, a founder of Societe Anonyme, who arranged an invitation to exhibit at the Albright Gallery in Buffalo. Drewes taught at the Brooklyn Museum and became an American citizen in 1936. Later he was an instructor at Black Mountain College, along with other Bauhaus alumni, Josef and Anni Albers. His imaginative forms and his love of color are always a pleasure to behold.
The Werner Drewes estate is represented by the Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara.
Image: Werner Drewes - Winter Mummery, 1945, oil on canvas, Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara.