News 2015

Thoughts on a recently discovered late work

News 2015.jpg

Still life with floral bouquet, head sculpture and green jug. 1945
Gouache on brown paper
67.5 x 50 cm
Privately owned


Disastrous consequences of World War II took their toll on Oskar Moll and his wife Marg. After bombings in 1943 and '44, their house and studio in Berlin-Grunewald (designed by Hans Scharoun) was largely destroyed, together with the valuable contents. The two artists were forced to move to Brieg, Oskar Moll's birthplace in Silesia. When Brieg was evacuated in January 1945, the Molls fled to the West, staying in Altenweddingen, near Magdeburg, until May 1946, when they managed to return to Berlin in a lorry. Now debilitated by uraemia, Moll, a former professor at the Breslau Academy of Art, sought distraction from the privations of their flight by sketching a series of softly-drawn still lifes sketched on fibrous brown paper, using scant painting materials. A privately owned, typical example of these was discovered only last year. On a tabletop with a chequered, fringed cloth, Moll has arranged motifs that lent vitality to his still lifes of the last twenty years. The dominant feature is a glass jug from which there issues a bouquet of fresh summer flowers – nasturtiums, campanula and gypsophila. Grouped around the jug are the plaster head of a woman (probably modelled by Marg Moll), a slim green lidded jug and juicy fruits (pear and apple). In 1946, Oskar Moll sold this gouache to Eberhard Seel, the first post-war director of the Deutscher Künstlerbund (Association of German Artists), who later, in 1964, organised a renowned exhibition for the 60th anniversary of the Künstlerbund in Berlin. This enterprising patron of the arts was quick to alleviate the Molls' distressed circumstances by providing Care packages and finding a rented apartment for them in Berlin-Zehlendorf. In gratitude for these humane efforts, Moll dedicated this charming still life to Seel in 1946, "in kind remembrance". A year later, rehabilitation began for the formerly proscribed artist couple. Walter Schüler's Kleine Galerie arranged an initial sales exhibition in May/June 1947 – a belated gratification for Oskar Moll, who died on 19 August of the consequences of a further uraemic episode.