31 October 2019 to 12 January 2020 / Opening: 30 October 2019, 6 pm
curated by Sabine Schaschl
The year 2019 marks the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus. We would also like to celebrate this anniversary at Museum Haus Konstruktiv, so we are devoting a solo exhibition to former Bauhaus student Roman Clemens (1910–1992) from our own collection.
The multifaceted oeuvre of Roman Clemens comprises stage sets, architecture, design and painting. He discovered the central themes of his work (stage and space) between 1927 and 1931 at the Bauhaus in Dessau, where he attended classes by Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Oskar Schlemmer. In Schlemmer's stage class, he came to know theater work as a synthesis of all creative fields. Already during his time at the Bauhaus, he developed all the fundamentals of his later work as a scenographer and painter: His stage space was to be a space full of tension and action, but which, from the audience’s perspective, also had the qualities of a well-composed painting.
After working as an assistant stage designer at Friedrichs-Theater in Dessau, he transferred his principles to the stage at the Zurich City Theater (today’s Zurich Opera House), where he worked from 1932 to 1943 as stage designer and art director. There, he innovatively and creatively intervened in the stage space and played with boundary-dissolution strategies, much like how he played with spatial dimensions as a painter. He designed stage sets for around 200 productions, adhering to his stripped-down geometric language of forms, which was influenced by the Bauhaus. In 1945, he started working as a freelance painter and architect in Zurich. In 1948, together with architect Werner Frey, he was commissioned to provide the interior design and fittings for the Zurich cinema then known as Studio 4 (today’s Filmpodium). In 1951, he began to revise many of his unimplemented designs, developing them to produce abstract spatial solutions using the Bauhaus language of forms. His constructivist paintings revealed similarities with the Zurich Concretists. In his Raumbild (Spatial Image) series, he designed modular arrangements, parallelograms, demi-cubes and geometric bodies with spatial structures that were always also indicative of the stage’s illusory space.
Selected Raumbild works from the 1970s and 1980s are being shown in autumn in the exhibition on the museum’s 4th floor. Many of the works were generously donated to Museum Haus Konstruktiv’s collection by the Lis and Roman Clemens Foundation.