Literature: Meyer, Géraldine, Max Sulzbachner. Mordnächte und Basler Tamtam, exhib. Cat. Kunstmuseum Basel, Kupferstichkabinett, Basel 2019/20, with col. illus. 9, p. 12. Provenance: Galerie René Reichard, Frankfurt/Main; private collection, Hessen, acquired from the aforementioned in 1986.


• Impressive self-portrait of the important Swiss Expressionist
• Clearly displaying the influence of his role model Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
• Pictorial reference to the artist’s “Raskolnikoff” cycle from the same year Both in terms of content and style, Sulzbachner’s works from 1925/26 display the influence of his great role model Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

His self-portrait “Self” displays a flat composition with angular lines and strong contrasts of red and blue. Sulzbachner presents himself in a self-confident pose as an artist, standing in the studio with a palette and painting utensils, with many of his own works in the background. On the right edge you can see the painting “The Conversation Behind the Door”, which is part of the three-part “Raskolnikoff” cycle, also created in 1925. In it, Sulzbacher depicts three scenes from the novel “Rodion Raskolnikoff” (1866) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which was popular with numerous artists at the time. Max Sulzbachner initially worked as a casual worker on the assembly line at Citroën and only found his way to painting in 1923. His visit to the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner exhibition in Basel, which moved him deeply, as well as a stay in Paris in 1923/24, were of particular importance for his choice of career. Hermann Scherer and Albert Müller introduced him to Kirchner’s Expressionism, and from 1924 onwards he regularly took part in exhibitions. Sulzbachner was a founding member of the Rot-Blau II group (1928) and the Basel Group 33 (1933). In addition to fine art, he was also interested in applied art. Sulzbachner was one of the most important lantern painters at the Basel carnival throughout the 1930s. He also worked as an artistic assistant at the Basel City Theater and as a stage and make-up designer in Zurich and Lucerne. In 1957 he represented Switzerland at the Biennale for Stage Design in São Paulo. Sulzbachner also taught at the Basel trade school and illustrated school books and literature. In 1974, the Basel Art Association honoured his work with a retrospective at the Kunsthalle Basel. Numerous works by Sulzbachner are now on display at the Kunstmuseum Basel, which showed the artist’s largest solo exhibition to date in 2019.

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