oil on canvas
96 x 81 cm (37 3/4 x 32 in.)
signed with monogram and dated lower left
The composition of "Badende vor Bäumen" shows nude figures in the tranquil atmosphere of a forest, where the green leafage and towering trees envelop the bathers and blur the boundaries between man and nature. The landscape serves not only as a backdrop, but actively participates in the narrative, lending the scene a sense of harmony and vitality. One of the most striking aspects of Heckel's depiction is the integration of the human body with the organic forms of the trees. The sinuous contours of the bathers' bodies mirror the graceful curves of the branches, suggesting a peaceful coexistence between man and the environment. In addition, Heckel's use of colour and brushstroke to depict the landscape lends depth and texture to the composition. The vibrant shades of green depict the vitality of the forest, while the dynamic gesture lends the scene a sense of movement and energy. Colour and form sometimes take on a life of their own, distancing themselves from the subject to the extreme and revealing the painterly break with tradition. Colour as the all-dominant element displaces the details of the object and painting exists solely for its own sake - as an expressive gesture of inner imagination. It is no longer the mimetic imitation of nature that takes centre stage, but the artist's very own feeling, exemplary of the artistic avant-garde.