Art Review


If you're crazy about mid-century modernism -- and let's be honest, who isn't? -- then you'll want to catch Werner Drewes: A Bauhaus Artist at the Lakewood Cultural Center (470 South Allison Parkway, 303-987-7876). Oh, true, it's installed with no apparent rhyme or reason -- I had to restrain myself from re-hanging it -- and it's way too big for the Gallery North, flowing sloppily out into the lobby. But neither of these shortcomings really matters, since the work is so marvelous.

As indicated by the title, Drewes had a Bauhaus connection, having trained at the legendary German art school and studied with Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. He immigrated to the United States in 1930 -- long before World War II, but just before the Nazis attacked the radical school and ultimately shut it down.

Drewes first landed in New York, where he taught at Columbia University, then went to St. Louis, where he taught at Washington University. He died in 1985. The artist never lived in Colorado, but his son, Harald Drewes, does, which explains the presence of his father's work hereabouts during the last decade.

The Lakewood show is made up mostly of hand-pulled woodcuts that survey the artist's entire sixty-year career, with the oldest things dating to his days at the Bauhaus and the newest created just a year or two before his death. Drewes first worked in an expressionist style that he applied to views of buildings or to the landscape, as seen in "Trees in Moonlight" (above), a 1932 woodcut. He did this kind of expressionism right up to the 1960s, when he developed a second stylistic phase: geometric abstraction, which he did in the '70s and '80s (when he was in his seventies and eighties). This later work is his best -- and, oddly, his most Bauhaus-y.

The compelling Werner Drewes is set to close on March 28, so there's plenty of time to go see it.

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia