37 x 37.5 cm
Oil on wood
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Das Progressive Museum Basel
In the 1920s, the German graphic artist, painter, and sculptor Thilo Friedrich Maatsch (born 1900 in Braunschweig, Germany, died 1983 in Königslutter, Germany) became primarily known for his geometric and abstract paintings of color fields. These paintings are characterized by decorative colors and a general lack of spatial depth. Maatsch, who was not only a passionate painter but also an elementary school teacher, founded the “Gesellschaft der Freunde junger Kunst” together with Rudolf Jahns and Johannes Molzahn in Braunschweig in 1918. Other members of the group included Lyonel Feininger and Paul Klee. In the same year, Maatsch also joined the “Novembergruppe,” and he took part in the “Große Berliner Kunstausstellung” every year until 1932. In 1927, Herwarth Walden organized a solo exhibition for him in his gallery Der Sturm. His painting from 1928, which is in the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv, is a geometric composition with square shaped forms in light yellow, orange, brown, and dark blue in different sizes, some outlined in black.
During the Nazi era, Thilo Maatsch’s work was put on the list of “degenerate” art. After this, he was forced to set his artistic career aside temporarily, and he concentrated on his teaching. In 1943, he was conscripted to the war, where he became a paramedic and was taken prisoner in the Soviet Union. After his release, he took up his old profession as a teacher, eventually becoming the principal of a school. His art was rediscovered roughly twenty years after the war was over and was honored by a number of exhibitions in short succession. His works have been bought by well-known private collectors, including the Deutsche Bank Collection, Stephan Hupertz, Carl Lazlo, and Alfred and Elisabeth Hoh.
When he returned to painting after the Second World War, Maatsch began searching for freer forms. This led him to biomorphic abstraction, which not only displayed Constructivist, but also floral and figurative motifs. Maatsch also created works on paper, wood cuts, and small sculptures that are regarded as fundamentally different from his more well-known works. The organic and rounded figurations and floral elements here belong to the organic style of art in the 1950s and ’60s represented by the likes of Barbara Hepworth. However, Thilo Maatsch’s late work is overshadowed by the strictly Constructivist works with which he became famous in the 1920s.
Dominique von Burg