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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

Stephen Bann

(b Middelburg, Zeeland, Nov 1, 1925; d Amsterdam, June 29, 1991).

Dutch artist . He attended the Amsterdam Institute of Design (1943–5) and initially painted in a neo-realist manner. In 1950 he began to produce paintings that were directly reminiscent of the Cubists and the Dutch De Stijl group. Like his contemporaries Victor Pasmore and Mary Martin, Baljeu rapidly moved towards the relief construction as his favoured mode of expression. Using both opaque and transparent coloured materials, he built up complex structures from basic orthogonal forms. He created free-standing sculptures based on the same constructional logic. From the late 1950s Baljeu extended his activities into a wide variety of environmental and architectural projects, such as Synthetic Construction WII (1957; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.)

Baljeu’s aim was not only to produce work in the De Stijl tradition, but also to revive the debate about art in its social and intellectual context, which had characterized the group activity of De Stijl in the 1920s. After he had established contact with the American artist and theorist Charles Biederman in the late 1950s, he founded the magazine ...

Article

Anna Szinyei Merse

(b Katona [now Ketina, Romania], Jan 14, 1900; d Budapest, April 2, 1988).

Hungarian painter, graphic artist, mosaic designer and teacher . He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, from 1919 to 1924. Towards the end of the 1920s he spent some time in Paris and Italy on a scholarship. He joined the Szentendre colony in 1929, and he became the most influential practitioner of Hungarian Constructivism. He exhibited widely from 1924 onwards and won many awards.

Barcsay’s work developed from the heavily contoured Working Girl (1928; Budapest, N.G.) and emphatically structured landscapes (e.g. Hilly Landscape, 1934; Budapest, N.G.) to a strict Constructivism after 1945. In his landscapes and urban scenes of 1945–7 he abandoned perspective drawing and placed his whitewashed gable-walls on a plainly structured skeleton. Human figures are reduced to mere signs in the homogeneous space. Monumental works began with his design of 1949 for a huge mosaic (realized 1963) in the Assembly Hall of Miskolc University. Another huge mosaic (3×11 m; ...

Article

Bauhaus  

Rainer K. Wick

[Bauhaus Berlin; Bauhaus Dessau, Hochschule für Gestaltung; Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar]

German school of art, design and architecture, founded by Walter Gropius. It was active in Weimar from 1919 to 1925, in Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and in Berlin from 1932 to 1933, when it was closed down by the Nazi authorities. The Bauhaus’s name referred to the medieval Bauhütten or masons’ lodges. The school re-established workshop training, as opposed to impractical academic studio education. Its contribution to the development of Functionalism in architecture was widely influential. It exemplified the contemporary desire to form unified academies incorporating art colleges, colleges of arts and crafts and schools of architecture, thus promoting a closer cooperation between the practice of ‘fine’ and ‘applied’ art and architecture. The origins of the school lay in attempts in the 19th and early 20th centuries to re-establish the bond between artistic creativity and manufacturing that had been broken by the Industrial Revolution. According to Walter Gropius in ...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Warsaw, Oct 30, 1894; d Paris, Aug 2, 1967).

Polish painter, designer and writer, active in France. He studied at the School of Art, Warsaw (1904–9), in Antwerp, and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1911–12). In the 1910s he was attracted to Futurism and the work of the Russian avant-garde, and he became one of the originators of Polish Constructivism. His early works show the influence of the Section d’Or, Cubism and Purism. He was a member of the Jung Jiddisch group in 1921–2. He lived in Berlin in 1922–3, exhibiting twice at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellungen. Back in Warsaw, he joined the Constructivist Block group.

In 1924 Berlewi had a one-man show at the premises of the Warsaw branch of the Austro-Daimler automobile company and published the booklet Mechano-Faktura (‘Mechano-Texture’). Both of these events were declarations of the union between art and technology. His works from 1924–6 are abstract compositions of basic geometrical forms and basic colours—as if in preparation for mechanical multiplication. In ...

Article

Hans Frei

(b Winterthur, Dec 22, 1908; d Zurich, Dec 9, 1994).

Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, industrial designer, graphic designer and writer. He attended silversmithing classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924 to 1927. Then, inspired by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, by the works of Le Corbusier and by a competition entry (1927) for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva, by Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer (1894–1952), he decided to become an architect and enrolled in the Bauhaus, Dessau, in 1927. He studied there for two years as a pupil of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, mainly in the field of ‘free art’. In 1929 he returned to Zurich. After working on graphic designs for the few modern buildings being constructed, he built his first work, his own house and studio (1932–3) in Zurich-Höngg; although this adheres to the principles of the new architecture, it retains echoes of the traditional, for example in the gently sloping saddle roof....

Article

Gottlieb Leinz

(b Hannover, Oct 17, 1890; d Hannover, Feb 2, 1964).

German painter. He had no artistic training but began painting in 1919. His friendship with Kurt Schwitters from 1921 signalled not only a new period of artistic production but also participation in the leading activities of international Constructivism. In 1925 he turned completely to Constructivism, for example Opus 25A (oil on canvas, 1925; Hannover, Niedersächs. Landesmus.). His strongly curved forms, comparable to the reliefs of Hans Arp, alternate with squares, in an organic whole conceived in flat, brilliant colours. From the mid-1920s the horizontal–vertical emphasis of his compositions was augmented by the dynamic use of textured surfaces and diagonal grids. The latter featured particularly in the series of Triangle pictures on triangular canvases, which anticipated later shaped canvases. Few of his important collages and constructions from these years survive.

The climax of this period was the foundation with Schwitters and others in 1927 of the Hannover group, which Buchheister led from ...

Article

Aleca le Blanc

(b Grão Mogol, Minas Gerais State, April 25, 1944; d Montes Claros, Minas Gerais State, March 28, 1986).

Brazilian painter. Colares worked in Rio de Janeiro during the country’s military dictatorship (1964–85), his work synthesizing the Constructivist sensibilities of Brazil’s Concrete artists of the 1950s with the rapidly expanding urban visual culture of Rio de Janeiro. Originally from a small rural town, Colares moved to Rio de Janeiro to study art in 1965 at the age of 21. He became acquainted with young avant-garde artists such as Antonio Manuel (b 1947), Antônio Dias, and Hélio Oiticica, and participated in the landmark exhibition Nova objetividade brasileira at the Museu de Arte Moderna in 1967.

Having rejected his civil engineer training, he dedicated his attention to courses at the Escola de Belas Artes and Ivan Serpa’s influential Open Studio at the Museu de Arte Moderna. There he learnt about the European avant-garde and figures such as Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, and Giacomo Balla, who became important aesthetic reference points. In an interview with curator Frederico Morais, he stated, ‘the painting that most influenced me was Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp’. Colares translated the dynamism and structure of the European tradition into his own large paintings that depicted the bright colours, high velocity, and multitude of buses constantly moving through Rio’s urban centre. The compositions took on a geometric format and Colares painted representations of fragments of the vehicles—headlights, body, and grilles—into the discrete spaces of the configuration, frequently in the form of a grid. That Colares only captured a snippet of the bus re-enacts the pedestrian’s visual experience; as they hurtle by at high speed, one can only comprehend a fraction of the vehicle before it has passed. Colares executed these by applying industrial paint to aluminium panels, creating a shiny and blemish-free image of urban life. And while this approach to the serial repetition of consumer culture creates an obvious visual link to the contemporaneous Pop art movement in the USA, Colares’ paintings cannot be divorced from the circumstances of the military dictatorship in Brazil, which legalized surveillance and censorship. Although not overtly political, it is impossible to know whether these paintings celebrate or criticize life in Rio de Janeiro. Many artists working in Brazil at the time created works with similar interpretive ambiguity, a mechanism by which one could potentially insert veiled political criticism and still avoid punishment....

Article

Marco Livingstone

(b Romford, Essex, May 3, 1950).

English painter, draughtsman and illustrator. After studying in London at St Martin’s School of Art (1968–72) and at the Royal College of Art (1972–5), Crowley began painting in a playful post-Cubist idiom. In works such as So and Sew (1980; see 1983 exh. cat., p. 4) he addressed himself for the first time to the subject of the domestic interior, which was to remain a prime concern. The comically charged and manic atmosphere of this early work, in which the excessive energy of a seamstress’s actions seems to have exploded the figure into its constituent elements, still draws on the elements of abstraction and schematization of Crowley’s painting of the mid- to late 1970s; the flatness that had characterized the earlier works, however, has here given way to strongly modelled, volumetric forms contained within a strongly recessive space. It was as Artist-in-Residence to Oxford University in the ...

Article

Allan Doig

(b Utrecht, Aug 30, 1883; d Davos, Switzerland, March 7, 1931).

Dutch painter, architect, designer and writer. He was officially registered as the son of Wilhelm Küpper and Henrietta Catharina Margadant, but he was so convinced that his mother’s second husband, Theodorus Doesburg, was his father that he took his name. Little is known of his early life, but he began painting naturalistic subjects c. 1899. In 1903 he began his military service, and around the same time he met his first wife, Agnita Feis, a Theosophist and poet. Between about 1908 and 1910, much influenced by the work of Honoré Daumier, he produced caricatures, some of which were later published in his first book De maskers af! (1916). Also during this period he painted some Impressionist-inspired landscapes and portraits in the manner of George Hendrik Breitner. Between 1914 and 1915 the influence of Kandinsky became clear in such drawings as Streetmusic I and Streetmusic II (The Hague, Rijksdienst Beeld. Kst) and other abstract works....

Article

Eveline Vermeulen

(b Amsterdam, Jan 15, 1900; d Paris, 1992).

Dutch painter. His father was Ferdinand Domela-Nieuwenhuis, an anarchist spokesman. After his father’s death he travelled to the freethinker’s colony in Ascona, Switzerland, where he began his artistic career in 1920. A self-taught artist, he first painted landscapes and still-lifes that were related to Synthetic Cubism in their abstraction, for example Landscape (1922; artist’s col., see Clairet, p. 63). Through travelling to Jena, Berne and Berlin, he met Constructivist artists and became friends with Arthur Segal and others. He exhibited with the Novembergruppe in 1923. Having moved to Paris, by 1924 he met Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian and joined De Stijl. 10 Constructive Studies (linocuts, 1923; artist’s col., see 1987 exh. cat., pp. 50–51) were reproduced in De Stijl in 1924 (vi/8). Having painted his first Neo-plastic work, in the following year he introduced the diagonal in his work, showing his desire for a dynamic composition, seen in ...

Article

Mark Allen Svede

[EKR; Est. Eesti Kunstnikkude Rūhm.]

Estonian group of painters and sculptors active from 1923 to c. 1930. The group continued the progressive internationalist orientation of their predecessors in the Young Estonia movement and united a new generation of painters committed to Cubist experimentation. The group was founded in Tartu by Eduard Ole (b 1898) and Friedrich Hist (1900–41), joined by Felix Randel (1901–77, named Johansen until 1936). Their work, like that of much of their colleagues, was primarily distinguished by modest geometricized abstraction and decorative colourism suggested by Synthetic Cubism, rather than by explorations of simultaneity, collage etc. It also often displayed strong characteristics of Neue Sachlichkeit and Purism. The earliest Estonian practitioners of Cubism were among the group’s members: Jaan Vahtra (1882–1947) and Hist, who from 1921 studied in Latvia, where he kept company with the modernists of the Riga Artists’ group. In 1924 EKR exhibited in Tartu and Tallinn with the Latvians, by which time membership had grown with the critical additions of ...

Article

Christopher Green

[González Pérez, José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos]

(b Madrid, March 23, 1887; d Boulogne-sur-Seine, May 11, 1927).

Spanish painter, draughtsman, illustrator and writer, active in France. His artistic career was spent almost exclusively in France, where he was considered one of the leading Cubist painters from 1912 until his death. An artist valued for the depth and consistency of his approach rather than as an innovator, he is recognized for his independent and distinctive approach to Cubism and as one of its most influential later practitioners and theoreticians.

Gris specialized in mathematics, physics and engineering at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas in Madrid from 1902 to 1904; he later described this phase of his education as formative. His approach to Cubism, which has often been called scientific in its logic and precision, may well have been affected by his knowledge of technical drawings. He broke his scientific studies, however, to train briefly with the academic painter José Moreno Carbonero (1860–1942), and he decided to become an artist. From ...

Article

Adrian Lewis

(b London, April 23, 1930).

English painter and sculptor. He studied at St Martin’s School of Art (1947–9) and at the Central School of Art (1949–51), where he came into contact with the Constructivist tradition of abstraction. At this time he was friends with Victor Pasmore, Adrian Heath (b 1920) and Kenneth and Mary Martin, and soon after he began corresponding with Charles Biederman, Max Bill and Marcel Duchamp.

Hill incorporated relief elements into his paintings of the early 1950s, such as Progression of Rectangles (plastic on board, 1954; Adrian Flowers priv. col, see 1983 exh. cat., p. 19), and from 1954 made reliefs that were asymmetrical and orthogonal in form, such as Relief Construction (plastic and aluminium on enamelled stove back, 1959; priv. col., see 1983 exh. cat., p. 37), composed of parallel planes of plastic or metal sheet with elements of L-shaped aluminium. His concern with such materials and with mathematical systems and shallow physical depth led him to abandon painting in ...

Article

Horacio Safons

(b Buenos Aires, May 4, 1923; d 1993).

Argentine painter. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires from 1938 to 1942 and in 1945 was a founder-member of the Asociación Arte Concreto Invención. He played a leading role in the development of abstract art in Argentina during the 1940s and 1950s. From 1945 he worked in a Constructivist style that took as its starting-point the notion of a line fracturing the plane in the work of Joaquín Torres García; by the early 1950s this was elaborated into compositions of pure geometrical forms. From 1954 to 1962 he explored effects of vibrating colour, first using discernible forms conveyed in a pointillist technique and then by juxtaposing lightly applied flat brushstrokes in diluted colours to create a shimmering veil-like surface.

While living in Mexico from 1963 to 1973, Hlito developed a vocabulary of rhythmic, fundamentally organic forms using curved lines; these led to acrylic paintings in a vertical format in which vibrant atmospheres, interpenetrated by dynamic planes, generated monumental spaces of glittering colour. In ...

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

Mark Haworth-Booth

(b Great Falls, MT, Dec 14, 1890; d New York, Oct 22, 1954).

American designer and painter, active in England. He studied painting first, at evening classes at the Mark Hopkins Institute, San Francisco (1910–12), at the Art Institute of Chicago, with lettering (1912), and in Paris at the Académie Moderne (1913–14). In 1912 he adopted the name of an early patron, Professor Joseph McKnight (1865–1942), as a gesture of gratitude. In 1914 he settled in Britain.

From 1915 McKnight Kauffer designed posters for companies such as London Underground Railways (1915–40), Shell UK Ltd, the Daily Herald and British Petroleum (1934–6). One of his master works, Soaring to Success! Daily Herald—The Early Bird (1919; see Haworth-Booth, fig.), was derived from Japanese prints and from Vorticism. In 1920 he was a founder-member of Group R with Wyndham Lewis and others. McKnight Kauffer’s designs included illustrations for T. S. Eliot’s Ariel Poems...

Article

[Klutsis, Gustav (Gustavovich)]

(b Rŭjiena, Latvia, Jan 4, 1895; d Siberia, 1944).

Latvian painter, sculptor, graphic artist, designer and teacher, active in Russia. He was an important exponent of Russian Constructivism. He studied in Riga and Petrograd (now St Petersburg), but in the 1917 October Revolution joined the Latvian Rifle Regiment to defend the Bolshevik government; his sketches of Lenin and his fellow soldiers show Cubist influence. In 1918 he designed posters and decorations for the May Day celebrations and he entered the Free Art Studios (Svomas) in Moscow, where he studied with Malevich and Antoine Pevsner. Dynamic City (1919; Athens, George Costakis priv. col., see Rudenstine, no. 339) illustrates his adoption of the Suprematist style. In 1920 Klucis exhibited with Pevsner and Naum Gabo on Tver’skoy Boulevard in Moscow; in the same year Klucis joined the Communist Party. In 1920–21 he started experimenting with materials, making constructions from wood and paper that combined the geometry of Suprematism with a more Constructivist concern with actual volumes in space. In ...

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 ...