The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of June 22, 2024

Play with Heads

Play with Heads

(German, 1888–1943)
Sheet: 42 x 29 cm (16 9/16 x 11 7/16 in.); Image: 25.2 x 20 cm (9 15/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
Catalogue raisonné: Grohmann GL 17; von Maur 507
Location: not on view


Variations on a theme, this rare set of prints explores diverse arrangements of three heads. Each image uses a single color and was printed in a spatter technique first used in the 19th century by French lithographers like Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. By drawing a blade across a toothbrush saturated with lithographic ink, the ink is spattered onto the lithographic stone in a random pattern of variously sized dots. By controlling the fine spray of droplets, transparent forms and a wide tonal range can be obtained. Unlike his contemporaries, El Lissitzky, Lázló Moholy-Nagy, and Kurt Schwitters, whose work focused only on abstraction, Schlemmer was intensely interested in the human form. He once said, however, that he was "interested in creating human types, not portraits." Thus he did not portray specific individuals, but prototypes for a purified, timeless image of humanity.
  • Private Collection, East Germany; [Jürgen Holstein, Berlin]; [Kornfield sale, 1993, Bern, Switzerland]; [Alice Adam, Chicago]
  • {{cite web|title=Play with Heads|url=false|author=Oskar Schlemmer, Utopia-Verlag, Weimar, November 1923|year=1923|access-date=22 June 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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