Willi Baumeister (* 1889 in Stuttgart; † 1955 ibid.) was a German artist and professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt and at the Stuttgart Art Academy. He became particularly known for his amorphous formal language, which moves on the edge of abstraction.
The "Neue Gruppe" was formed in Munich shortly after the Second World War in 1946/47. Artists from the "Neue Secession", whose art was considered "degenerate" by the National Socialists and was banned, joined forces to make a new start. Among them were Max Beckmann, Willi Baumeister, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Lothar Fischer, Erich Heckel, Max Kaus, Horst Antes, Konrad Klapheck, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Max Pechstein and Fritz Winter. After the experiences of the preceding dictatorship, they declared a free, tolerant approach in all areas of the visual arts to be their primary goal. The association still exists today as the "Artists' Association Haus der Kunst Munich" after the "Neue Gruppe", "Münchner Sezession" and the "Neue Münchner Künstlergenossenschaft" jointly founded the "Exhibition Administration Haus der Kunst Munich".
The "Novembergruppe" was founded in Berlin in 1918, shortly after the November Revolution. Until its dissolution in 1933 when the National Socialists seized power, over 170 artists were members of this trend-setting movement. Initiated by Max Pechstein and César Klein, the association brought together artists working in the Expressionist, Futurist and Cubist movements such as Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, Alexej von Jawlensky, Willi Baumeister, Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Mueller and Christian Rohlfs. This syncretism also asserts itself in the unification of art, music, architecture, theatre and philosophy that the group advocates. Members asked for a say in matters of art policy, such as the acquisition of art for public collections, art policy and the provision of exhibition space.
In 1949, the "Gruppe der Ungegenständlichen" (Group of Non-Figurative Artists) was founded in Munich, consisting of Willi Baumeister, Fritz Winter, Rolf Cavael, Gerhard Fietz, Rupprecht Geiger, Willi Hempel and Brigitte Meier-Denninghoff. A year later, the name changes to "ZEN 49", in reference to Zen Buddhism, which inspires many of their works. The focus on non-objective painting shows a turn towards artistic freedom and openness of interpretation. Abstract art should not only be perceived, but also understood. Together with other artists, especially representatives of Informel, exhibitions are conceived and the international exchange with like-minded people is promoted.