Bauhaus Stairway, Oskar Schlemmer
Oskar Schlemmer
Bauhaus Stairway
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Oskar Schlemmer

Bauhaus Stairway, 1931 – 1932

279 x 219 mm
Physical Description
Pencil and watercolour on wove paper
Inventory Number
Object Number
17910 Z
Acquired in 2019 as a bequest from Ulrike Crespo from the Karl Ströher Collection
Can be presented in the study room of the Graphische Sammlung (special opening hours)


About the Work

When the Nazi majority in the Dessau city council deliberated the dissolution of the Bauhaus in 1932, Schlemmer began painting the ‘Bauhaus Stairway’, meanwhile long an iconic image (Museum of Modern Art, New York). In the process, he drew on earlier studies, especially this delicate watercolour sketch. The figures calmly climb the stairway of the Dessau Bauhaus. They look timeless, de-individualized, in harmony with one another and their architectural setting. The work is a programmatic formulation of the underlying Bauhaus idea—the unity of the human being and architecture.

About the Acquisition

The Städel Museum has the photographer, psychotherapist, philanthropist, and long-time Frankfurt resident Ulrike Crespo (1950–2019) to thank for more than ninety works ranging from classical modernism to American pop art. The paintings, drawings, and prints by Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Dix, Oskar Schlemmer, Max Ernst, Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly, and others originally belonged to the holdings of her grandfather, the Darmstadt-based industrialist Karl Ströher (1890–1977), who amassed an extensive art collection after World War II.

Work Data

Basic Information

Bauhaus Stairway
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Pencil and watercolour on wove paper
Geographic Reference
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Nicht bezeichnet
Captions Added Later
Verso nummeriert oben links (mit Bleistift): 3)
  • Nicht vorhanden
Work Catalogues
  • von Maur A 464
  • Hildebrandt 744

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
Acquired in 2019 as a bequest from Ulrike Crespo from the Karl Ströher Collection

Work Content

Motifs and References


  • 31A231 standing figure
  • 31D14 adult man
  • 31D15 adult woman
  • 41AA1 civic architecture; edifices; dwellings - AA - civic architecture: inside


Research and Discussion


Object History
Nachlass Oskar Schlemmer (Tut Schlemmer), 1943
an Karl Ströher (1890-1977), Darmstadt, 1952
Nachlass Karl Ströher, 1977
an seine Enkelin Ulrike Crespo (1950-2019), Frankfurt am Main
Vermächtnis an das Städelsche Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, 2019.


Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.

The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.

Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:

  • the type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.

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