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César Domela (1900-1992)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
César Domela (1900-1992)

Composition néo-plastique no. 5 O

Details
César Domela (1900-1992)
Composition néo-plastique no. 5 O
stencilled with the signature and dated 'C DOMELA 1926' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas in the artist's painted frame
40¾ x 32¾ in. (103.5 x 83.5 cm.)
Painted in 1926
Provenance
Dr. Arthur & Madeleine Lewja, New York.
Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne.
Christian Fishbacher by whom acquired from the above in 1979; sale, Christie's, London, 7 February 2007, lot 402.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
H.C.L. Jaffé, De Stijl, 1917-1931, The Dutch Contribution to Modern Art, Amsterdam, 1956, no. 44.
A. Clairet, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre de César Domela-Nieuwenhuis, Paris, 1978, no. 30 (illustrated p. 81).
H.C.L. Jaffé, Domela, Paris, 1980, no. 30 (illustrated p. 51).
Exhibited
Hanover, Kunstverein Hanover, Herbstausstellung Hannoverscher Künstler, 1927.
Amsterdam, Stedlijk Museum, De Stijl, 1951 (illustrated).
São Paolo, Museo de Arte Moderna, César Domela, 1954; this exhibition later travelled to Rio de Janeiro, Museo de Arte Moderna.
New York, Galerie Chalette, Construction and Geometry in Painting, From Malevich to Tomorrow, 1960, no. 57; this exhibition later travelled to Cincinnati, Contemporary Art Centre, Chicago, Arts Club and San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Arts.
Austin, Texas, University Art Museum, Art of the 1920s in Europe and America, 1972, no. 36.
Hannover, Sprengel Museum, César Domela, August - October 2007, no.15.
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, César Domela, November 2007 - April 2008, no. 15.
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Mondrian & De Stijl group, September 2011- April 2013.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Sale room notice
Please note that this work is also signed with the monogram (lower right).

Brought to you by

Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

Painted in 1926, Composition néo-plastique no. 5 O is one of César Domela's most significant works, painted shortly after his encounter with the De Stijl group in 1924. Through his friend, the sculptor Henri Laurens, Domela first met Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian in Paris. The artist's own independent research into geometry and abstraction interested the De Stijl group, who welcomed the young artist as one of its members, reproducing his linocuts 10 Constructive Studies that year in their magazine. De Stijl had been founded in 1917, with the ambition of forging a new pictorial language, independent from figurative representation and centred on universal principles: straight lines and squared angles, the vertical and the horizontal, primary colours (red, blue and yellow) and the bare basis (white, grey and black).

In its elements, Composition néo-plastique no. 5 O conforms to the criteria defining De Stijl's idea of painting: Domela has divided the space of the canvas using black lines meeting at perpendicular angles, articulating on its surface a constructed asymmetry. He has also limited his palette to blue, red, yellow and grey, disrupting the binary system of black and white on which the picture is structured. Although perpendicular, however, the lines in Composition néo-plastique no. 5 O are diagonals, rooting this work within the theoretical debate which separated Van Doesburg and Mondrian in 1924, the very year Domela joined the group. While Mondrian firmly believed in the absolute harmonic value of horizontal and vertical lines, Van Doesburg argued that diagonals, crossing at right angles, brought a necessary dynamic element to the composition, counterbalancing the stability of perpendicular lines.

In 1926 - the year Composition néo-plastique no. 5 O was painted - Domela's works continued to be illustrated in De Stijl magazine. Works such as the present one, however, show how the artist was aligning himself towards Van Doesburg's position, who by that year had founded a new movement, Elementarism. Although embracing Van Doesburg's ideas, Composition néo-plastique no. 5 O also affirms Domela's determinedly independent approach: while, according to Van Doesburg, diagonals had to be introduced in the picture plane at forty-five degree, Domela resorted to a more instinctive compositional principle, which would eventually lead him to explore, in his later works, curved lines and the third-dimension. Cutting the sides of the canvas at different angles, the diagonals in Composition néo-plastique no. 5 O introduce a vertiginous effect to the composition, adding a vivid sense of movement to its rigorous geometric structure.

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