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Article

Gisela Moeller

(b Berlin, April 12, 1871; d Berlin, April 13, 1925).

German architect, designer, writer and teacher. After moving to Munich in 1892, he abandoned his plan to become a teacher, deciding on a career as a freelance scholar. He then studied aesthetics, psychology and philosophy, being particularly influenced by the lectures of the psychologist Theodor Lipps. He also studied German literature, art and music. In 1895 he intended to write a doctorate on the theme of ‘The Construction of Feeling’. In spring 1896 he met Hermann Obrist, who persuaded him to abandon his proposed academic career and become a self-taught artist. As well as book illustrations and decorative pieces for the art magazines Pan and Dekorative Kunst, he produced decorative designs for wall reliefs, carpets, textiles, coverings, window glass and lamps. In 1897 he designed his first furniture for his cousin, the historian Kurt Breysig. His first architectural work, the Elvira photographic studio in Munich (1896–7; destr. 1944), decorated on its street façade by a gigantic, writhing dragon, was a quintessential work of ...

Article

Marshall N. Price

[Ferren, Millard James]

(b Pendleton, OR, Oct 17, 1905; d Southampton, NY, July 25, 1970).

American painter. Born Millard James Ferren, following high school in Los Angeles, Ferren took the first name John and moved to San Francisco where he learned stonecarving, worked as a telephone engineer and had contact with modernist artists such as Yun Gee and Rinaldo Cuneo (1877–1939). He initially worked as a sculptor but soon began painting. Ferren traveled to Europe twice as a young man, first in 1929 and then later from 1931 to 1938, residing in Paris and Mallorca, Spain. While in Europe he studied at the académies Colorossi and Ronson, as well as the Sorbonne and the universities of Florence, Italy, and Salamanca, Spain. In Paris he became friendly with artists who were codifying the language of abstract art such as Piet (er Cornelis) Mondrian, Jean Hélion, Joaquín Torres García (1874–1949) and S(tanley) W(illiam) Hayter, among others. Ferren played a role in bringing this language to America, first as part of the exhibition ...

Article

Anna Moszynska

(b San Mateo, CA, June 25, 1923; d Santa Monica, CA, Nov 4, 1994).

American painter and printmaker. Following an accident leading to spinal tuberculosis while serving in the US Army Air Corps, Francis started to paint for distraction in 1944, studying privately under David Park in 1947. He subsequently relinquished his earlier medical studies in favor of painting, completing his BA (1949) and MA (1950) at the University of California at Berkeley. During this period he experimented with different styles of painting, notably Surrealism and the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and particularly Clyfford Still. His own style emerged in 1949–50; in Opposites (1950; Tokyo, Idemitsu Mus. A.), for example, dripping, corpuscular shapes painted in fluid red circulate freely around the canvas, indicating what was to become a perennial concern with “ceaseless instability.” With its sensitivity to sensuous color and light, Francis’s work was already showing very different concerns from the expressive iconography and energy of many of the Abstract Expressionists....

Article

Daniel Robbins

(b Paris, Dec 8, 1881; d Avignon, June 23, 1953).

French painter, printmaker and writer. He grew up in Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris, and as a student at the Collège Chaptal became interested in theatre and painting. At 19, his father put him to work in the family interior design and fabric business, an experience that contributed to a lifelong respect for skilled workmanship. The first paintings he exhibited, at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1902, were Impressionist in character, but the work accepted within two years at the Salon d’Automne showed a shift to social themes, a tendency that accelerated until 1908. Compulsory military service from 1903 to 1905 thrust him into the company of working-class people, arousing a permanent sense of solidarity with their aspirations and needs. The results were immediately apparent in the Association Ernest Renan, which he helped to establish in 1905, a kind of popular university with secular and socialist aims. He was also one of the founders of a community of intellectuals based near Paris, the ...

Article

Vanina Costa

(b Quiévy, Nord, April 29, 1882; d Paris, 30–31 Jan 1960).

French painter. He studied drawing at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Lille, from 1898 to 1901, when he settled in Paris. The initial influence of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism visible in paintings that he sent to the Salon des Indépendants in 1906 gradually gave way to an involvement with Cubism after his move in 1909 to the Bateau-Lavoir studios, where he met Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris; he was also encouraged by his friendship with Wilhelm Uhde. His work was exhibited in the same room as that of Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes and Fernand Léger in the Salon des Indépendants of 1910, and in 1912 he participated in the influential Section d’Or exhibition (see Section d’Or). After producing his first abstract paintings in 1917, Herbin came to the attention of Léonce Rosenberg who, after World War I, made him part of the group centred on his Gallerie de l’Effort Moderne and exhibited his work there on several occasions in ...

Article

Colin J. Bailey

(b Olmütz, Moravia, May 13, 1853; d Stuttgart, May 17, 1934).

German painter. While still at school he became familiar with lithography and printing methods with the intention of joining his father’s thriving publishing firm. His later decision to study art eventually met with his father’s approval, and from 1876 until 1879 he trained at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna. In 1879 he transferred to the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich, where until 1881 he continued his training under Carl Barth and Wilhelm von Diez (1839–1907). After a study tour with the German painter Arthur Langhammer (1854–1901) he returned to Munich to paint.

A visit to Paris in the 1880s had a decisive effect on Hölzel’s future development. He frequented the studios of Manet and Monet and was particularly impressed by the plein-air paintings of the Impressionists. As a direct result both his style and his technique underwent immediate change. Whereas his early work was executed in the realistic manner of Diez, and his paintings of the early 1880s (e.g. ...

Article

Vivian Endicott Barnett

[Vassily; Wassily] (Vasil’yevich)

(b Moscow, Dec 4, 1866; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, Dec 13, 1944).

Russian painter, printmaker, stage designer, decorative artist and theorist. A central figure in the development of 20th-century art and specifically in the transition from representational to abstract art, Kandinsky worked in a wide variety of media and was an important teacher and theoretician. He worked mainly outside Russia, but his Russian heritage continued to be an important factor in his development.

Kandinsky grew up in Odessa and from 1886 to 1893 studied economics, ethnography and law in Moscow, where he wrote a dissertation on the legality of labourers’ wages. He married his cousin Anya Shemyakina in 1892 (divorced 1911). In 1896 Kandinsky decided to become an artist and went to Munich. There he studied from 1896 to 1898 at the art school of Anton Ažbe, where he met Alexei Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin, and then in 1900 at the Akademie with Franz von Stuck. The following year he was a co-founder of the ...

Article

Petr Wittlich

[Frank]

(b Opočno, Sept 22, 1871; d Puteaux, Paris, June 21, 1957).

Bohemian painter and graphic artist, active in France. A pioneer of European abstract painting, he first trained at the School of Arts and Crafts at Jaroměř under Alois Studnička (1842–1927). From 1887 until 1891 he studied at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts under Professor František Sequens (1836–96), a late Nazarene, who directed an atelier of religious painting. He continued his studies at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna (1892–3), under Professor August Eisenmenger (1830–1907). In 1894 he met the painter and natural philosopher Karl Diefenbach (b 1851), who impressed him with his ideas of a return to nature. Kupka’s paintings of this period (e.g. Quam ad causam sumus?, ?1894) are untraced. In 1895 he settled in Paris, earning his living as an illustrator for periodicals. In 1899 he exhibited a genre painting, the Bibliomaniac (Prague, N.G., Trade Fair Pal.), at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts without notable success. He first achieved fame with his satirical cycles in anarchistic style, ...

Article

Troels Andersen

(Severinovich)

(b Kiev, Feb 26, 1878; d Leningrad [now St Petersburg], May 15, 1935).

Russian painter, printmaker, decorative artist and writer of Ukranian birth. One of the pioneers of abstract art, Malevich was a central figure in a succession of avant-garde movements during the period of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and immediately after. The style of severe geometric abstraction with which he is most closely associated, Suprematism (see fig.), was a leading force in the development of Constructivism, the repercussions of which continued to be felt throughout the 20th century. His work was suppressed in Soviet Russia in the 1930s and remained little known during the following two decades. The reassessment of his reputation in the West from the mid-1950s was matched by the renewed influence of his work on the paintings of Ad Reinhardt and on developments such as Zero, Hard-edge painting and Minimalism.

Article

(b Amersfoort, March 7, 1872; d New York, Feb 1, 1944).

Dutch painter, theorist, and draughtsman. His work marks the transition at the start of the 20th century from the Hague school and Symbolism to Neo-Impressionism and Cubism. His key position within the international avant-garde is determined by works produced after 1920. He set out his theory in the periodical of Stijl, De, in a series of articles that were summarized in a separate booklet published in Paris in 1920 under the title Le Néo-plasticisme (see Neo-plasticism) by Léonce Rosenberg. The essence of Mondrian’s ideas is that painting, composed of the most fundamental aspects of line and colour, must set an example to the other arts for achieving a society in which art as such has no place but belongs instead to the total realization of ‘beauty’. The representation of the universal, dynamic pulse of life, also expressed in modern jazz and the metropolis, was Mondrian’s point of departure. Even in his lifetime he was regarded as the founder of the most ...

Article

V. Rakitin

( Bogdanovich )

(b Tiflis [now Tbilisi], Jan 2, 1884; d Erevan, Dec 28, 1928).

Georgian stage designer and painter of Armenian origin, active in Russia . He studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1901–3) but was expelled after a disagreement over the teaching methods. Posted to the Far East during military service, he became acquainted with Far Eastern decorative art, which inspired the works he exhibited with the Blue Rose group after his return to Moscow in 1907 (e.g. The Races, 1905; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.). His work of this time refers to traditional Chinese and medieval European art refracted through Art Nouveau, in an attempt to create a new decorative style in easel painting. In Moscow he often designed the décor for artistic soirées and balls, creating architecturally decorative compositions whose basic components were painted panels. In 1910 he travelled to Italy and in 1912–13 he worked in Paris, where he became acquainted with Sonia Delaunay and Robert Delaunay. In ...