Germany 1945-1969:Abstraction

Frankfurt, 1945-1953

Fontaine  with the help of his active wife Virginia, became quickly connected with the best gallery in Frankfurt, the newly opened Frankfurter Kunstkabinett,  run by Hanna Becker from Rath.  There in 1948 he had his first solo show in Germany.

In 1949 the first big comprehensive show of modern art was held in Wiesbaden. There Paul Fontaine was introduced to Willi Baumeister, Arthur Fauser, and Otto Ritschl and some of the older established German Expressionist painters such as Emile Nolde, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.The new trends were a pure art of form. Willi Baumeister, its most significant proponant, was occupied with the relationship of form, going beyond the purely formal. Little value was placed on whether he expressed himself in a more romantic tendency or in a classical absolute form. Fontaine’s lyrical informal geometric style in his early works and his concern for the relation of form would align itself to the definition of Baumeister’s works. Baumeister (who encouraged him to exhibit) defines lyrical abstraction as not a synthesis of form, rather the impulse to express in advance of form the whole richness and spontaneity of the inner life, with the artist projecting himself into his work.

The paint mediums used from 1947-1949 were a mixed medium or oil and ink. The ink would be scraped to reveal surface texture. Fontaine insists that the painting is a creation independent of any outside supporting factors. Nature may suggest form but the painting should not be interpreted in something other than pure form and pure color.

From 1949 on Fontaine’s painting techniques remained the same, but his ideas or inspiration were constantly being investigated. Basically he would make a sketch and establish the black and white composition of the painting. Then he would visualize harmonies through color. But the feelings created by adapting color to the black and white cannot be predicted. Most important is the inspiration, which to Fontaine is the spiritual quality of a painting. The greater the inspiration, the more the painting has something to say. The colors used define the spiritual’ intent, that unknown quality from which creativity springs; Fontaine attributed this to his subconscious in action and nothing else.