Archaic Fragment, Richard Oelze
Richard Oelze
Archaic Fragment
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Richard Oelze

Archaic Fragment, 1935

98.0 x 130.0 cm
Inventory Number
Acquired in 2016 with support of the Kulturstiftung der Länder as well as the Marga and Kurt Möllgaard-Stiftung, joint property with Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
On display, 1st upper level, Modern Art, room 7


About the Work

Archaic Fragment is one of only three large-format works from Oelze’s most important creative period in Paris (1933‒1936). It shows his unmistakable pictorial language, in which he merged the precise painting style of New Objectivity with the Surrealist fantastic motifs. Although painted in great detail, the depiction eludes any final interpretation ‒ a seemingly animated mixed entity floats around a fantasy landscape. The entity itself is reminiscent of plants and animals combined with human body shapes. The familiar and the strange meet and merge in the surrealistic logic to create a disturbing internal landscape. The artist also plays with erotic undertones, awakening fears and desires that slumber in the human psyche like an ‘archaic fragment’.


  • Gastkommentar: Neuronale Netzwerke in der Kunst mit Hirnforscher Moritz Helmstaedter
    Was sieht ein Hirnforscher in den Werken der Städel Sammlung? In diesem Gastkommentar eröffnet DR. Moritz Helmstaedter (Direktor und Wissenschaftliches Mitglied am Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung in Frankfurt) seine Sichtweise auf die Kunstwerke im Städel Museum. Er schaut sich Paul Cézannes "Landschaft. Straße mit Bäumen im Felsgebirge" (1870–1871), Alexej von Jawlenskys "Abstrakter Kopf: Sinfonie in Rosa" (1929) sowie Richard Oelzes "Archaisches Fragment" (1935) unter Berücksichtigung verschiedener neurowissenschaftlicher Wahrnehmungstheorien an. Mehr Infos unter: Die Werke in unserer Digitalen Sammlung Paul Cézanne, Landschaft. Straße mit Bäumen im Felsgebirge (1870–1871): Alexej von Jawlensky, Abstrakter Kopf: Sinfonie in Rosa (1929): Richard Oelze, Archaisches Fragment (1935):

Work Data

Basic Information

Archaic Fragment
Period Produced
Object Type
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Signiert und datiert unten rechts: oelze 35

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Gemeinsames Eigentum mit dem Städelschen Museums-Verein e.V.
Picture Copyright
© Estate of Richard Oelze
Acquired in 2016 with support of the Kulturstiftung der Länder as well as the Marga and Kurt Möllgaard-Stiftung, joint property with Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif
Associated Persons and Institutions


  • 0 Abstract, Non-representational Art
  • 29 surrealia, surrealistic representations
  • 25H214 lake
  • 31A444 anthropomorphic beings with parts of abnormal shape

Research and Discussion


Object History
Richard Oelze, Paris
Julien Levy (1906-1981), New York
verkauft an Thomas F. Howard, New York, November 1940
Privatbesitz, USA
Verst. Clarke Auction Gallery, Boston an Privatbesitz, Frankreich, 3. Juni 2013.


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Conservation and Restoration

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