Walter Dexel Biography – Jacob Samuel

Walter Dexel (8 Feb 1890 – 8 June 1973) was an artist, designer, advertiser and Dr. of art history. Dexel is a prominent artist  in the Constructivism (Russian avant-garde that began in 1914) movement and in “concrete” style of painting.

Dexel painted his first painting at 1913 during a trip to Italy. Dexel was an autodidact, this way Dexel obtained most of his artistic abilities. Dexel studied art history with Heinrich Wölfflin and Fritz Burger for four years (1910-1914) in Munich . During this period he also studied painting. Dexel graduated in 1916 and received his doctorate at 1919. He was influenced by many artists and artistic movements of his time such as Cézanne and later by Cubism and Expressionism.

The first paintings in his solo exhibition were painted in a cubist style, he studied during this period the work of the Bauhaus artist Lionel Finingr, through him Dexel started painting using compositions that are based on simple geometric elements. In 1918, after the war, Dexel became the head of exhibitions in Jena, where he organized exhibitions with contemporary artists.

Dexel began in 1920 to paint in the  “Constructivism” style later Dexel started to paint in abstract style. In 1923, Walter Dexel joined with his friend Kurt Schwitters, the Da-daist, to the “November” group. Dexel was also a gifted advertiser so he joined in 1928 to the “new graphic artists cycle”.
Dexel wasn’t only a painter, he worked at advertising, interior design and decor stages. Dexel was socially involved and interested in the problems of modern life and even published a book with the title “The House today.”

From 1928 to 1935 Dexel lectured on graphic design, but the Nazis dismissed him from this position. More over his works were vilified by the Nazis. These events made dexel to forsake his artistic life, he will return to draw only in the end of his life.After the war, Dexel became interested in the “domestic consumption” history. During 1942 to 1955, he assembled the “Historical collection of forms” and published several books on “forms”.
A Retrospective exhibition in Berlin were held in 1961, the exhibition caused Dexel to renew his interest in art and he returned to paint.
Dexel died in 1973 at the age of 83.
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