Christian Schad - La rue des vices, 1916
Oil on canvas
96 x 76 cm
The german artist and painter Christian Schad is together with Otto Dix and George Grosz one of the most important representatives of social realism. He grew up in Munich as a upper middle class child, in a environment where his artistic talents were facilitated from an early age. He studied at the academy of arts in munich where his early works consisted of expressionist woodcuts. When the first world war started Schad had to interrupt his studies and fled to Zurich to evade being drafted by the military. He joined the Zurich Dadaist circle of Hugo Ball, Hans Arp and Tristan Tzara and was co-creator of the dadaistic art magazine “Sirius”. In 1918 Schad developed the technique that would later be known as “Schadographie” in which a photosensitive plate was used to create contoured images without using a camera. After residences in Rome, Napels and Vienna he moved to Berlin in 1928, where he devoted his art entirely to social realism, after experimenting mainly with expressionism and cubism in his earlier paintings. Contrary to his contemporary Georg Grosz he refrained on being overly socially critical and cynical. His portraits of the “golden twenties” became art historical icons, in which he described and unmasked the isolation and alienation of the individual of this young republic. After the national socialists seized power his art wasn’t declared as “entartet, but he neither gained praise or recognition for it. He withdrew from the art world and assumed a brewery depot in Berlin in 1935. In 1943 his studio was destroyed and he decided to move to Aschaffenburg. There he got a contract to create a copy of the famous “Stuppacher Madonna” from Mattias Grünewald for monastery church of St. Peter and Alexander.
In the fifties he created the so called “Magischen Bildern” and the first “Schadographien” cycle after a forty year long break. The last twenty years of his life Schad lived in Keilberg in Spessart. In 1972 his life work was honored in a retrospective at the Palazzo Reale in Milano, as well as again in 1980 in the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Berlin.
La rue des vices is the believed to be lost painting called “Lasterstrasse” which can be found in the catalog raisonné. It was supposedly created during his time in Zurich and shown in 1916 at the Teppichhaus Werblowski in the Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich, as well as again in 1917 under the title “La rue des vices” in his studio apartment in Geneva at the Avenue Wendt 38. Dr. Martin Pracher who is an expert on Christian Schad personally inspected the painting and remarked that it is part of a group of black and white paintings that Schad created after a longer creative break. Schad cites different elements and images that can be found in earlier works, especially his woodcuts from 1915. In the painting La rue des vices Schad was still experimenting with elements of expressionism and seemed to have been heavily influenced by cubism.