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Conrad Felixmüller: Death of the Poet Walter Rheiner (Tahun 1925); Robert Gore Rifkind Collection and Foundation, Beverly Hills.


A SWANSONG TO EXPRESSIONISM?: THE DEATH OF THE POET WALTER RHEINER
Having cultivated a drug habit in order to avoid conscription at the beginning of the First dunia War, the expressionist poet Walter Rheiner – whose novella Kokain, illustrated by Conrad Felixmüller, had been well received in 1918 – took a fatal overdose in his cheap rented apseniment in Berlin in June 1925.
War was over (for the time being) and expressionism looked increasingly outdated. A new generation of painters, photographers and architects – who had survived or avoided the murder in the trenches – turned away from utopian ideals. Instead, seniists such as Otto Dix, Georg Grosz and Christian Schad revelled in capturing life – away from the mainstream – realistically and honestly.
The Dresden born painter Conrad Felixmüller became pseni of this new movement, which was dubbed Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) a few weeks after Rheiner’s death. But to paint an obituary to his poet friend, the 28 year-old revisited the idiom of the expressionist Brücke seniists of his home town. Felixmüller depicts the metropolis Berlin as a labyrinth of angular planes, showing Cubist influences. The foreboding confusion of edifices and thrusting trains is contrasted with the warm lights in the windows and the curiously homely net curtains and pots of geraniums framing the dying writer, who holds the fatal syringe delicately between his fingers. The spots of luminous or garish colour add to the dreamlike quality of the scene. Is the poet falling or is he flying? Is it pain or bliss expressed in his face?
(text: Christoph & Charlotte Kreutzmüller)

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