Together, the compositions from the Elly Fleischmann bequest, the other eleven works in the collection of the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs and the four paintings will provide a representative overview of the artist’s oeuvre in all its phases.
An especially noteworthy aspect is Fleischmann’s versatility in the combination of individual hues and various rhythmic formal structures which turn his works into action spaces. From about 1950 onward, Adolf Fleischmann is considered to have been above all a pioneer of “Cinétisme Optique” and a precursor of “Op Art”. In a letter of April 1965 to a friend, he himself explained: “Back then, I had no idea that I would once become the Papa of an entire movement.” Nevertheless his works contrast strongly with those of “Op Art”. Fleischmann remained an unquestioning disciple of classical painting. He never sought to disconcert the eye or cover the traces of his craft. Emphasis on individual style was always a primary concern, as was adherence to pure painting, for which reason he never used a ruler!
Fleischmann combined standardized elements such as the L-form, parallel stripes or rhombi in infinite possible variations. So he never fails to develop an entirely new world of contrasting form and colour impressions. The amazing – as well as straightforward – thing about this world is that, despite the often disastrous circumstances that shaped his life, Fleischmann remained loyal to it as an idealistic counter-image. In his works the artist avoids any threat, but also any underlying meaning, and realises therewith in his art an ordered, utopian world. The constancy of Fleischmann’s oeuvre confirms his trust in this world. This arises in the beauty of its – and his – imagery, which are full of quiet lyricism and hope.
Fleischmann, a pupil of Adolf Hölzel among others, studied at the Stuttgart academy before setting out to lead the restless life of a wanderer. Following completion of military service, during which he sustained an injury on the Eastern front, he lived first in Switzerland, then in various places in Germany. In 1933, labelled a »degenerate« painter and no longer able to exhibit his work in Germany, he went to Mallorca. Beginning in 1938 he lived in France, where he was repeatedly interned due to his activities in the résistance. He immigrated to New York in 1952. In 1965, by which time he was gravely ill, he returned to Stuttgart, where he died on 28 January 1968.
A catalogue (48 pages) has been published in conjunction with the exhibition.