Paul Kleinschmidt

Still life with strange vases (Strange Vases)


Lipps-Kant 169.


Paintings by Paul Kleinschmidt lent by Erich Cohn, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933/34, cat. no. 4.


Erich Cohn Collection (1898-1972), New York, since 1931;

Richard A. Cohn Collection, New York, inherited from the aforementioned in 1972;

Private property, Southern Germany.


– Painted for the well-known New York collector Erich Cohn

– Created in 1931 in Cassis, southern France, during a study visit

– Already exhibited in a solo exhibition in Chicago in 1934

The present still life was created during a study trip that Paul Kleinschmidt spent in the south of France in 1931. As early as 1929, the artist undertook a three-week study trip to Marseille, Arles and Aix-en-Provence and produced a whole series of drawings and watercolours there, which later became the basis for several oil paintings. They met with the enthusiasm of his patrons at the time, Wilhelm Bilger from Ulm and in particular Erich Cohn (1898-1972) from New York. Kleinschmidt met him in 1927 through the passionate recommendation of his friend and patron, the German art historian Julius Meier-Graefe, who had become known as an advocate of Impressionism. The New York pasta manufacturer from Breslau was one of the first in the USA to collect German Modernism and was fascinated by Kleinschmidt’s overall oeuvre. Cohn became his most important patron over the years. Nevertheless, Cohn recognised that Kleinschmidt’s daring figure paintings of voluminous and sensual women would hardly find a buyer in the puritanical USA. He therefore encouraged the artist to paint less controversial genres, especially landscapes and still lifes, and also suggested that he travel to the south of France again, which he did with his family in March 1931. His destination was Cassis, where Julius Meier-Graefe had found him a large flat with a view of the sea.

In the same year, Kleinschmidt was able to make a name for himself overseas by participating in an exhibition on German painting at the MoMA. Shortly after his 50th birthday, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum of Art dedicated solo exhibitions to him in 1933/34. Our still life entitled “Strange Vases” is shown in Chicago.

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