21.3 x 18.7 cm
60.9 x 43 cm
Linocut on paper
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
The artworks of Harry Fränkel (born 1911 in Dortmund, Germany, died 1970 in Bochum, Germany) consist primarily of prints, paintings, and collages that are characterized by a rich and diverse pictorial language. His graphic works are an excellent example of his development from figurative expressionism, via more abstract forms, to purely geometric compositions.
Fränkel trained as a draftsman at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Dortmund. Because he was the son of a Jewish businessman, the Nazis did not let him continue his education at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Fränkel was imprisoned in a work camp near Kassel from October 1944 to May 1945, and his father was killed in Auschwitz. After the war, he worked as an illustrator for the press. His works from the 1950s incorporate a slightly grotesque element and address Nazi crimes and defamations as well as other socio-political issues. The expressive woodcut with the title “Schemen,” for example, is a caricature of a group of black-market vendors. By placing emphasis on the interstices in the woodcut, the artist creates an optical effect in which we focus on either the white or the black figures. In 1953, he joined the artists’ group Niederrhein, which later changed its name to Gruppe 53.
Fränkel’s concentration and reduction of artistic means inspired him to rely less and less on figurative representation and spatial illusion. In his work “Komposition mit weissem Feld,” forms of different colors enter a white field while a blue square acts as a concentrated visual pole. The artist was not interested in norms, but in relationships, as in “Komposition mit roter Figur,” in which our concentration is focused entirely on a sphere that is slightly off-center and hovering among freely drawn angular and oval forms. From 1968 on, he worked mostly with abstract screen prints that revolve around the playful interaction between squares, color harmonies, and quantities, as for example in his screen print “Nr. 20/69.” Harry Fränkel’s Concrete and Constructivist phase has a clear poetic touch that lends it a unique sense of lightness and ease.