William Wauer

“Albert Bassermann”


Cf. Laszlo p. 51.
Exhibitions:From Expressionism to Resistance: Art in Germany 1909-1936. The Marvin and Janet Fishman Collection, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee et. al. 1990-92, cat. no.174, with black and white ill. p. 146.
Provenance: the artist’s estate; Galerie Brockstedt, Hamburg; collection of Marvin & Janet Fishmann, USA; Karl & Faber, 28.10.2010, lot 179; private collection, Europe; private collection, Munich.


William Wauer was a true cultural jack-of-all-trades who, throughout his life, constantly devoted himself to new ideas in all areas of the visual and performing arts and sought out new challenges. Born as the son of a pastor in the Erzgebirge, he first studied at the art academies in Dresden, Berlin and Munich, then went to New York and San Francisco, studied again after his return, this time art history and philosophy in Leipzig, and worked as a feature editor. Wauer lived in Rome for two years, then returned to Berlin as an editor and illustrator for various newspapers and magazines and worked as an artistic expert in the advertising departments of well-known companies such as Kupferberg, Kathreiner, Stollwerck and Odol. In the meantime, he lived in Dresden, founded a cultural weekly magazine and wrote theatre reviews. In 1905, back in Berlin, he became a director at the Deutsches Theater under Max Reinhardt as well as at other theatres. In 1911, he made the transition from theatre to film and, as a director, Wauer – together with the famous actor Albert Bassermann – played a key role in the development of the still young medium. During these years, which were heavily influenced by the theatre, William Wauer portrayed the actor Albert Bassermann in a strongly animated bronze. The individual parts of his face are divided into planes that meet at almost burr-like edges. Wauer’s cubist-expressionist portrait busts of Herwarth Walden, his wife Nell Walden and Albert Bassermann are now considered icons of expressionist sculpture. The actor Albert Bassermann is regarded as one of the greatest talents of his time. From 1909, he worked under the direction of Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and was soon celebrated as one of the most important character actors of the early 20th century. Bassermann was one of the first German actors to become involved in film. In 1933, the actor left Germany with his Jewish wife and emigrated to the USA in 1939, where he settled in Hollywood. At over 40, he quickly learnt English and appeared in numerous film roles despite his thick accent. Bassermann was nominated for an Oscar in 1940 for his supporting role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent”.

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