Georges Vantongerloo (1886-1965)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION
Georges Vantongerloo (1886-1965)

Composition dans le carré avec couleurs jaune-vert-bleu-indigo-orangé

Georges Vantongerloo (1886-1965)
Composition dans le carré avec couleurs jaune-vert-bleu-indigo-orangé
signed with the monogram (lower right)
oil on canvas
19 3/4 x 19 3/4 in. (50.2 x 50.2 cm.)
Painted in 1930
On loan to Sonia & Robert Delaunay, Paris.
Dr John Joseph Wardell Power, by whom acquired directly from the artist; estate sale, Sotheby's, London, 7 November 1962, lot 52 (titled 'Composition dans le carré inscrit et circonscrit d'un cercle').
Marlborough Fine Art, London.
Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, by 1975.
Acquired from the above by the present owner before 1981.
Exh. cat., Georges Vantongerloo: A Traveling Retrospective Exhibition, Brussels, 1980, p. 74 (illustrated).
Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Plus by Minus: Today's Half-Century, March - April 1968, no. 213.
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, 20th Century European Masters, January - February 1975, n.n.
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, 20th Century European Masters, December 1976 - January 1977, n.n.
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum, 'Rot konstruiert' und 'Super Table': Eine Schweizer Sammlung moderner Kunst, 1909-1939, March - April 1980, p. 118 (illustrated p. 119 ); this exhibition later travelled to Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, April - June 1980; and Ludwigshafen, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, June - August 1980.
Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Georges Vantongerloo, January - March 1981, no. 66, p. 74 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Zurich, Kunsthaus, April - May 1981, no. 66, p. 57 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, L'Art en Belgique: Flandre et Wallonie au XXe siècle, December 1990 - March 1991, no. 278, p. 524 (illustrated p. 177).
Aarau, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Du Greco à Mondrian: Une collection privée suisse, January - March 1996, p. 280 (illustrated p. 281); this exhibition later travelled to Wuppertal, Von der Heydt-Museum, April - June 1996; Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister, July - September 1996; Vienna, Bank Austria Kunstforum, September - December 1996; and Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, January - April 1997.
Leiden, Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New World, October 2009 - January 2010, no. 178, p. 254 (illustrated p. 214); this exhibition later travelled to London, Tate Modern, February - May 2010.
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Lot Essay

Angela Thomas Schmid has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Painted in 1930, Composition dans le carrée avec couleurs jaune-vert-bleuindigo-orangé is a superb example of Georges Vantongerloo’s idiosyncratic approach to the ideas of the De Stijl movement, in which he adopts a mathematically constructed rectilinear, grid-like composition to explore the elegant inter-relationship of a carefully selected group of colours. Although Vantongerloo arrived in Holland in 1914, a refugee from Belgium having been injured during the opening months of the First World War, it was not until almost four years later, in the spring of 1918, that he first made contact with the artists involved in De Stijl. Approaching Theo van Doesburg with a view to publishing his essay ‘Science and Art’ in the group’s periodical, Vantongerloo quickly became absorbed into this radical group of thinkers, architects, painters and designers, marrying their theories and pioneering aesthetic with his own explorations in abstraction.

Particularly influential for the young artist was the friendship he developed with Piet Mondrian, whose writings on concrete art mirrored his own. While there are obvious parallels between the two artists’ compositions, Vantongerloo allowed a wider range of colour contrasts and relationships to vibrate through his work, expanding on the strictly limited palette of Mondrian to explore the manner in which subtle shifts in tone, hue and saturation altered the visual resonance of his painting. In the present composition, Vantongerloo uses a variety of shades, from a block of bright yellow in the upper left corner, to a dark forest green below it, in order to interrupt the delicate white and grey squares that dominate the composition. These points of vibrant colour enliven the whole painting, imbuing it with a new visual energy, while the lack of thick, dark lines demarcating each of the rectangles allow a more direct interaction between the colours.

According to Max Bill, this painting spent its early years on loan to Robert and Sonia Delaunay, before entering the collection of the Australian painter John Power. Power had saved members of the Abstraction-Création group, including Vantongerloo, from a debt caused by the association’s president, Auguste Herbin. In exchange for covering the debt, Vantongerloo gave the present work to Power, a move which subsequently propelled the Belgian artist to the forefront of the association, and resulted in his election to the prestigious position of vice president and treasurer of the group.

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