Chinaman, 1928

Artist: Karin van Leyden

Oil on canvas, 91 x 72 cm

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Chinaman, 1928

Karin, born in 1906, is noticed in 1928 when she participated in a group exhibition, Kölner Kunst 1928, at the Kölnischen Kunstverein. Karin is recognized in the criticism as one of the most talented Cologne artists of that moment: ‘An diese Künstlerin kann und muss man hohe Anforderugen stellen, weil sie Talent genug hat, ihnen gerecht zu werden.’ In the monthly magazine Der Querschnitt, one of her works, the realistic and peasant Die Köchin, is depicted next to a drawing by Vincent van Gogh.

Karin Kluth starts her artistic career in the late twenties in a primitive-expressionist style. Chagall certainly influenced her Russian Violin Player (fig AAA), in other works we recognize a dash of Gauguin (Chinese Café, Jewish Family and China Man, AAA), Rousseau le Douanier (In the Jungle, AAA), or Ensor (Masks AAA). In the thirties she draws a lot as the beautiful drawing entitled Siesta, which is elaborated in the painting Couple in the collection of AAA, shows.

In the late twenties Ernst and Karin exhibit together. One of the first joint exhibitions is in Paris at Galerie George Bernheim (1929). Karin must have made a crushing impression. She appears, with a beautiful photo of Man Ray, on November 15 on the cover of the magazine Paris Montparnasse (photo covers of Marc Vaux, not in the possession of AAA). In the same year Ernst had already managed to create a solo exhibition at Galerie Bernheim Jeune. Both exhibitions were highly praised. F. Crommelynck wrote a long exposé about his vision of modern art and encouraged Ernst to continue on his path. Karin, addressed by André Salmon as Corine, represented, according to this Salmon, innocence in the face of Ernst’s knowledge. What emerges from the comments on the two Paris exhibitions is that Ernst and Karin were not considered the avant-garde of the time, but as conservative artists. This was not meant to be negative.