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In 1971, just two years after completing his studies at Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts, Alfons Lachauer made the first of a small group of paintings from the early 1970s that were purchased from the artist by Neues Museum in 2019 and which are now being shown for the first time.
Almost square canvases, slightly wider than they are tall, bring together exceedingly cool colours: mainly a bright yellow, plus pink and blue. The primary colours are not quoted to stress the elementary quality of the composition, appearing instead as a subjective adaptation. In a famous quotation, the Rosenheim artist defined painting as scientificity plus sensuality multiplied by colour.
As this exhibition at Neues Museum shows, Lachauer’s concrete art moved between the poles of rationality and emotion from the outset. This also opened up freedoms in formal terms. Lachauer activates the different fields of the picture from the periphery, literally electrifying them with colour. In one case, the two bands of colour meet diagonally at the bottom edge, creating a particular tension. A similar dynamism is achieved by modulations of colour saturation, the full effect reserved for the large yellow areas, causing them to appear full of light and space.
In this ensemble put together by the artist himself, the pictures enhance each other’s impact, their aesthetic presence forcing the historical aspect of this small presentation far into the background.