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Article

Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

Ticio Escobar

(b Asunción, 1921; d Asunción, May 14, 1993).

Paraguayan painter and engraver. She studied under Jaime Bestard and Lívio Abramo in Asunción and from 1958 in São Paulo, Brazil. Her paintings of the 1950s were Cubist-inspired landscapes and still-lifes in oils. In the late 1950s she began to transpose her schematized pictorial style into wood-engraving; in the early 1960s her engravings were increasingly based on the simple play of black and white and textures, and she then passed through a phase of abstraction related to Art informel finally to reach a purified but effectively suggestive abstraction based on organic forms. Her engravings of this period show her skill in synthesis and her capacity for expression: large shapes are realized straightforwardly in black and white but are animated by an intense inner energy. In the 1970s she embarked on a new technique based on multiple impressions and the use of colour: large masses of strong shades and contrasting tones were superimposed and juxtaposed to provoke special chromatic tensions. This series of engravings, entitled ...

Article

Éva Bajkay

(b Ersekujvar, Hungary, March 21, 1887; d Budapest, July 22, 1967).

Hungarian writer, painter, theorist, collagist, designer, printmaker and draughtsman. His family moved to Budapest in 1904, and, after finishing an apprenticeship as a blacksmith, in 1908 he began publishing stories and poems. In 1909–10 he travelled across Western Europe and spent some time in Paris, becoming acquainted with modern art and anarchist ideas. He published short stories, plays and poems in Budapest and from November 1915 he edited the periodical A Tett (‘The deed’), which was anti-militarist and discussed socialist theories and avant-garde ideas. In summer 1916 he spent time in the Kecskemét artists’ colony with his brother-in-law Béla Uitz and under his influence executed his first ink drawings (e.g. Landscape, 1916; Budapest, N.G.). Progressive young artists and aesthetes grouped themselves around Kassák; after A Tett was banned in September 1916, he started in November a new periodical, MA (‘Today’; see MA group), which he edited with Uitz (to ...

Article

Lajos Németh

(b Pestlőrinc [now in Budapest], Feb 17, 1931; d Budapest, Dec 12, 1972).

Hungarian painter and printmaker. He studied graphic art at the Budapest College of Fine Arts from 1951 to 1955. His symbolic etchings, which are both expressive and constructivist, broke new ground in modern Hungarian art. His works were exhibited with great success abroad (e.g. at the Venice Biennale, 1968), while in Hungary his first one-man exhibition was held in Budapest in 1960, followed by controversial exhibitions elsewhere in Hungary up to the time of his death, after which commemorative exhibitions were held, and a retrospective (1984).

The composition of Kondor’s early paintings shows the influence of medieval icons, in particular in their use of metallic hues and decorative coloration. From the 1960s a more ‘polyphonic’ type of composition and style characterized his work, often moving between different spatial and temporal dimensions within the same picture. His colours altered from a decorative, deep luminosity to transparent glazes. The symbolism in his pictures was based on a powerful system derived from a combination of Classical, Christian and private mythologies. Drawing on the great ...

Article

Éva Bajkay

(b Beszterce [now Bistriţa, Romania], Dec 1, 1908; d Budapest, Aug 17, 1984).

Hungarian painter, printmaker, collagist, teacher and experimental film maker. In 1921 he attended the Artur Podolni-Volkmann private school in Budapest, and in 1923 he spent a year in Holland. He attended the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest (1925–30), exhibiting in a group show in 1930 with artists associated with Lajos Kassák’s Work Circle (Munka-kört). After a period in Paris and Holland in 1930, he worked at the Szentendre colony in a Constructivist-Surrealist style similar to that of Lajos Vajda, drawing upon local and folk art motifs (e.g. Szentendre Motif, 1935; Budapest, N.G.), and the musical theory of Béla Bartók. Korniss fought in World War II, returning from a prisoner-of-war camp in 1945. He went on to make small monotypes of rooftops (e.g. Illuminations, c. 1946; Budapest, N.G.). In 1946 he joined the European School, and in 1947–8 he taught at the School of Crafts and Design, Budapest. His work became abstract and geometric, although symbolic meaning is conveyed in the most effective works (e.g. ...

Article

John Milner

[Lisitsky, El’ ; Lisitsky, Lazar’ (Markovich )]

(b Pochinok, Smolensk province, Nov 23, 1890; d Moscow, Dec 30, 1941).

Russian draughtsman, architect, printmaker, painter, illustrator, designer, photographer, teacher, and theorist.

After attending school in Smolensk, he enrolled in 1909 at the Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt, to study architecture and engineering. He also travelled extensively in Europe, however, and he made a tour of Italy to study art and architecture. He frequently made drawings of the architectural monuments he encountered on his travels. These early graphic works were executed in a restrained, decorative style reminiscent of Russian Art Nouveau book illustration. His drawings of Vitebsk and Smolensk (1910; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.), for example, show a professional interest in recording specific architectural structures and motifs, but they are simultaneously decorative graphic works in their own right and highly suitable for publication. This innate awareness of the importance of controlling the design of the page was to remain a feature of Lissitzky’s work throughout radical stylistic transformations. He also recorded buildings in Ravenna, Venice, and elsewhere in Italy in ...

Article

Anna Bentkowska

(b Abbeville, Aug 27, 1931).

Polish painter, etcher and conceptual artist. He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Łódź (1949–50) and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (1950–56). His early works were influenced by Neo-Constructivist tendencies, then very prevalent in Polish art. He gradually moved towards conceptual art and developed monochrome compositions that repeat a particular motif in rhythmic sequences. Chronomes (1961–3; Łódź, Mus. A.) are abstract paintings composed of a multitude of minute dots. In Banners (1967; Warsaw, N. Mus.), a series of etchings, Opałka took a fragment of a photograph showing a street demonstration and repeated it many times in different sizes in the same work. He also created the series Three-dimensional Structures (1964–7; artist’s col.), made of battens and canvas, composed of only horizontal lines. In a series of etchings based on biblical themes, Description of the World (1968–70; Warsaw, N. Mus.), Opałka again explored the idea of the repetition of similar motifs, as in ...

Article

Roger Avermaete

(b Antwerp, July 24, 1895; d Antwerp, Sept 10, 1960).

Belgian painter, printmaker and designer. After studying at the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp, he started painting in a Post-Impressionist style, although he soon turned to Symbolism and finally to abstract painting. He painted his first abstract picture in 1919, a year after founding the group Moderne Kunst, of which he was the leader and the theorist. In 1920 he organized a congress of modern art in Antwerp, the first of its kind in Belgium.

In the early 1920s Peeters was at the forefront of the wave of modernism centred in Antwerp. He not only painted and made linocuts but also became involved with the decorative arts, designing furniture, carpets and vases as well as posters and even typefaces. Constantly seeking new approaches, his work was varied and innovative, never settling into a formula. The ideas that he defended in his writings and lectures and particularly in the avant-garde magazine ...

Article

Monica Bohm-Duchen

[Peter]

(b Budapest, June 13, 1899; d London, Jan 19, 1967).

British sculptor, printmaker and painter of Hungarian birth. Although he originally intended to follow a legal career, he worked as a stone mason between 1916 and 1917 and in 1918 studied sculpture in Budapest, becoming a member of the MA Group. During the Béla Kun Communist regime in Hungary (1919), he joined a group of travelling actors; on the regime’s downfall, he moved to Vienna and then to Paris. He was expelled from France for left-wing activities and arrived in Berlin in 1920. His early drawings, many of them political satires, show Dadaist and Expressionist influence. In 1921 he produced his first Constructivist works, the Space Constructions, painted on shaped wood or canvas, or occasionally made out of concrete, such as Space Construction V (concrete, 1921; untraced, see 1973 exh. cat., p. 47), and the linocuts derived from them, such as the portfolio collection Linocut, 1922–3 (Berlin, Gemäldegal.). In ...

Article

Anna Bentkowska

(b Łódź, May 3, 1924).

Polish sculptor, draughtsman, painter, ceramicist, printmaker and tapestry designer. He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Łódź, graduating in 1951. His style derives from Constructivism and from the ‘Unism’ of his teacher Władysław Strzemiński. Starczewski’s complex art uses the complementary treatment in combination with different visual disciplines. He was particularly interested in rhythmic, precise arrangements of forms and signs (e.g. MF 7/9, embossed paper, 1972, see D. Wróblewska: Polish Contemporary Graphic Art (Warsaw, 1983), fig.). One of his earliest works was a large-scale ceramic bas-relief entitled Disposition for Two Hands (1959–60), a geometric abstraction made for the University Library in Łódź. In 1963 he produced his first Alphabet of sculptural signs, a series of works that led to his conception of Tables (examples of both in Łódź, Mus. A.), which he started to create in 1973. On a long, rectangular table covered with a white tablecloth, Starczewski arranged alternate rows of identical forms, such as potatoes or bread rolls (ceramic or real), or sequences of three objects (e.g. a wine glass, toothbrush and tube of toothpaste). These arrangements are accompanied by graphic compositions that explore different types of signs (print, braille, handwriting) and examine their relationship (e.g. ...

Article

Lajos Németh

(b Zalaegerszeg, Aug 1908; d Budakeszi, Sept 7, 1941).

Hungarian painter, draughtsman, collagist and printmaker. He studied in 1927–30 at the Art School in Budapest under István Csók. At this stage he was committed to Constructivism, left-wing political ideas and the Munka-kört (workers’ circle), run by Lajos Kassák. From 1930 to 1934 he lived in Paris, where Cubism and Surrealism impressed him, but his greatest interest was Soviet avant-garde film, which influenced the politically committed Surrealist simultaneous photomontages that he made in Paris. In 1935–6 he worked in the Szentendre colony, near Budapest, and in Szigetmonostor with Dezső Korniss: the artistic programme they worked out there was a visual version of Béla Bartók’s musical theory. Through the painterly transformation of the material and spiritual remnants of peasant culture, Vajda wanted to construct a modern art style that reconciled the icons of eastern European art with the western avant-garde. Using elements of Constructivism and Surrealism, and building on the principle of simultaneity, he made drawings and coloured collages using forms drawn from Serbian Orthodox Church traditions and modern trends. In ...

Article

Stephen Bann

(b Pecs, Hungary, April 9, 1908; d Paris, March 15, 1997).

French painter and printmaker of Hungarian birth. He was one of the leading figures in the development of geometrical abstraction known as Op art, popular in Europe and the USA during the 1960s. He studied in Budapest at the Academy of Painting (1925–7) and under Alexander Bortnyk (1893–1977) at the ‘Mühely’ Academy, also known as the Budapest Bauhaus (1929–30). In 1930 he moved to Paris and worked as a graphic designer for the next decade. He was thus able to commit himself seriously to the task of devising a new pictorial language only in the period following World War II. After what he regarded as a false start in 1944–6, he began the process of lengthy and methodical abstraction from particular features of his environment that resulted in his pure and individual style of the 1960s.

At the Budapest Bauhaus, Vasarely had become aware of the formal and geometrical language that masters of the original Bauhaus (Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and László Moholy-Nagy) had employed in their courses for artists and designers. His work during the 1930s shows a sophisticated grasp of the techniques of applied art that can clearly be traced to this source. Vasarely’s development from ...

Article

Freya Probst

(b Bremen, April 15, 1900; d Stuttgart, May 28, 1990).

German industrial designer and printmaker. He began his artistic training as an apprentice in the design office of a Bremen silverware factory (1914–18) and attended lessons in script and drawing at the local Kunstgewerbeschule (1916–19). A grant enabled him to continue his studies at the famous Zeichenakademie in Hanau (1919–22), where he received a varied training including silversmithing, engraving, design and modelling. The graphic works that he produced in 1920–23 were probably made during a short stay in Bremen and at the Worpswede artists’ colony; they are mostly woodcuts and engravings with religious themes, for example Death and the Virgin (woodcut, 1921; Bremen, Focke-Mus.), motifs from everyday life and the world of work. These are mostly in a brittle style, expressing themes of destruction, hunger, pain, suffering and death. By 1923 the themes became more optimistic and were depicted with a soft voluminosity.

In ...