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Gallery Text

At the Bauhaus, where Schlemmer led the sculpture and later the theater workshops from 1921 to 1929, his devotion to figuration distinguished him from colleagues who were exploring pure abstraction. In his influential Bauhaus course “Man,” he analyzed measure, proportion, movement, gesture, and the relationships between human figures and their environments. In his own work, Schlemmer developed a simplified, geometrical figure that he brought into dialogue with architectural space in the form of relief sculptures, costumed dancers on a stage, and painted figures in dreamlike interiors. Composed of spheres and cylinders, the three figures here occupy an ambiguous space that suggests a stairway in the way they seem to ascend, descend, recede, and advance. The simplification of form and analysis of function that informed Schlemmer’s work were also key concepts for many others at the Bauhaus, who applied these principles to their designs for architecture, furniture, and household objects.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Oskar Schlemmer, German (Stuttgart, Germany 1888 - 1943 Baden-Baden, Germany)
Three Figures with Furniture-like Forms
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Drei Figuren mit Möbelformen
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 1, Room 1500, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art in Germany Between the Wars
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
90.5 x 61 cm (35 5/8 x 24 in.)
framed: 98.3 x 68.5 x 3.2 cm (38 11/16 x 26 15/16 x 1 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: on backing board, ink on paper, printed and typewritten: DEUTSCHE KUNST DES 20. JAHRHUNDERTS AUS DEM BUSCH-REISINGER MUSEUM, // HARVARD UNIVERSITY // Schlemmer, Three Figures with Furniture-Like Forms // (Drei Figuren mit Möbelformen) // check list number 124 crate number 10 // Städel, Frankfurt Oct. 21, 1982 - Jan. 19, 1983 // Bauhaus-Archive, Berlin Feb. 10, 1983 - April 1983 // Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf May 8 - June 26 1983 [on Busch-Reisinger Museum label]
  • label: on backing board, ink on paper, printed and typewritten: THE BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART // ART MUSEUM DRIVE BALTIMORE MARYLAND 21218 // EXHBITION: OSKAR SCHLEMMER // DATES: 2/9/86-4-6-86 / tour thru 1/87 // TITLE: 3 Figures With Furn. Forms // ARTIST: Oskar Schlemmer // LENDER: Harvard University // LOAN NO. 11526.1 (Cat. 31)
[Flechtheim Gallery, Berlin]. [J. B. Neumann, New York]. G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh, gift; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1955.
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Maur G192
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of G. David Thompson
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Publication History

Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 28, repr.

Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 67, ill.

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 113

Exhibition History

Works from the 20th Century Collection of the Busch-Reisinger, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/15/1980 - 09/01/1980; Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 09/23/1980 - 10/24/1980

Deutsche Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus dem Busch-Reisinger Museum, Stadtische Galerie im Stadelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, 10/23/1982 - 01/16/1983; Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin 30, 02/10/1983 - 04/17/1983; Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, 05/08/1983 - 06/26/1983

German Painting 1760-1960: A New Installation, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 12/20/1983 - 02/19/1984

32Q: 1500 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Expressionism-Interwar), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/12/2018 - 04/05/2019; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/05/2019 - 01/01/2050

32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/10/2016 - 10/02/2017; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/04/2018 - 12/10/2018

Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 10/29/2017 - 01/14/2018

Subjects and Contexts

The Bauhaus

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