German watercolourist, painter and etcher of fantastic works, mostly small in scale; one of the most inventive artists of the 20th century. Born in M-4nchenbuchsee near Bern, son of a German music teacher and a Swiss mother. Went to Munich 1898-1901 to study painting; worked first with Knirr, afterwards at the Academy under Stuck. Visited Italy with the sculptor Haller 1901-2 to widen his knowledge of art, then lived 1902-6 in Bern, taking great interest in music as well as painting. His ten etched 'Inventions' 1903-5, with satirical grotesque figures, were his first significant achievement. Settled in Munich 1906 and had his first one-man exhibition in 1910 at the Kunsthaus, Zurich. Met Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Macke and Marc in 1911 and was included in the second Blue Rider exhibition 1912. Visited Paris in 1912, met Delaunay and saw Cubist pictures. Travelled to Tunis and Kairouan with Moilliet and Macke 1914; growing interest in colour, began to work largely in watercolour. Moved to Weimar in 1921 to teach at the Bauhaus, moving with the Bauhaus to Dessau in 1926. His Pedagogical Sketchbook published 1925. Afterwards taught at D-4sseldorf Academy 1931-3. Dismissed by the Nazis in 1933 and returned to Bern. Died at Muralto-Locarno.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.386