1879, Münchenbuchsee, nr. Bern – 1940, Locarno – Muralto (Switzerland)
The Swiss-German painter, graphic artist and printmaker began studying art in Munich, but soon left the academy, visiting Italy to study the Old Masters, then Paris to familiarize himself with the work of the Impressionists. He was strongly inspired in his use of colour and contrast by his encounter with August Macke, Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc around 1911, and through his exposure to the work of Robert Delaunay. A journey he made to Tunis in 1914 with Macke and Louis Moillet inspired his subsequent “breakthrough to colour“. He began composing his watercolours like musical scores consisting of coloured squares, wiry, linear motifs and representational forms, and gave them richly evocative poetic titles. In 1919 he turned to oil painting and became interested in exploring cosmic themes. From 1921 onwards he taught at the Bauhaus school, first in Weimar, then in Dessau. In 1924, together with Kandinsky, Feininger and Jawlensky, he founded the artists’ group The Blue Four. In 1930 he took up a teaching post at the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Art, but was dismissed in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. He spent the rest of his life in Bern and Locarno.