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Theorist Vantongerloo

Theorist Vantongerloo - Lyklema Fine Art

Georges Vantongerloo (Antwerp 1886-1965 Paris) is internationally recognized as Belgium's foremost abstract artist and theorist. Despite his significant influence on the development of 20th-century art, Vantongerloo remains largely unknown to the general public. With works in collections including the Centre Pompidou, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo), he stands as the ambassador of Belgian abstraction.

George began his studies in general and drawing education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp from 1900. Later, he spent four years studying sculpture and working in the studio of sculptor Emile Jespers, father of fellow student Oscar.

At the outset of World War I, he was mobilized, wounded, and subsequently fled to the Netherlands. There, Vantongerloo continued creating conventional works for the Belgian exile elite and the Dutch bourgeoisie. In The Hague, he met futurist Jules Schmalzigaug through Willem Paerels in the Comité Belge.

From 1917 onwards, he devoted himself to abstract forms of expression. Like a modern Leonardo da Vinci, Georges Vantongerloo focused on the relationship between the body and the cosmos in his work. In December 1919, De Stijl published two of his works, "Construction des rapport des volumes," which quickly attained iconic status. Vantongerloo briefly joined De Stijl until a disagreement arose between Van Doesburg, Mondrian, and himself. However, his connection with Piet Mondrian persisted.

Despite Mondrian's known intuitive approach, Vantongerloo was convinced of a mathematical code underlying his compositions. Through endless calculations documented on paper, he attempted to decipher the "Mondrian code," yielding no definitive result.

Vantongerloo introduced Van Doesburg's lecture "Classique-Baroque-Moderne" in Antwerp in February 1920, marking the beginning of Pure Visual Art in Flanders. Due to health reasons, he relocated to Menton, France, where he lived until 1930.

Especially after publishing his pamphlet "L’Art et son Avenir" in 1924, Vantongerloo provided new impulses to geometric abstraction through his writings. For instance, he subjected three neoplastic works by Piet Mondrian to analysis in the French magazine "Vouloir," thus paving the way for his own "mathematical" abstraction.

In Menton, he collaborated with Seuphor, Mondrian, and Luigi Russolo on the "Cercle et Carré" exhibition at Galerie 23. In 1931, he became vice president of the artist association "Abstraction-Création," a position he held until 1936.

For twenty years, Vantongerloo worked as a painter and sculptor, limiting his oeuvre to horizontal and vertical lines. The three-dimensional translation of this play of lines led him to architectural concepts, even attempting to realize urban projects for bridges and airports. As a utopian thinker, he advocated for a world where his abstract forms would be integrated into society.

After approximately 1937, he shifted away from straight lines in favor of curved lines, maintaining his principles while exploring greater lyrical freedom. He experimented with new materials like plexiglass and plastic, playing with transparency, color, and light. The use of spirals in Vantongerloo's work reflects his exploration of the "immeasurable" space.

From 1929 onwards, Vantongerloo's work was included in many significant exhibitions, connecting with the new generation of abstract artists. Some examples include "Abstrakte und Surrealistische Malerei und Plastik" (Kunsthaus Zürich, 1929), "L'Art Mural" (Paris, 1935), "Cubism and Abstract Art" (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1936), "Kunsthalle Basel" (1937), "Abstrakte Kunst" (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 1938), "Art Non-Objectif" (Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1939), and "1er Salon des Réalités Nouvelles" (Paris, 1946).

Even after World War II, Vantongerloo remained highly productive. He exhibited 60 works alongside Max Bill and Antoine Pevsner at the Kunsthaus Zürich. In 1960, he participated in the Biennale for Sculpture in Paris and had a retrospective exhibition at the Marlborough Fine Art gallery in London in 1962.

The strength, but perhaps also the weakness, of Vantongerloo lay in the fact that his oeuvre spanned all possible art disciplines, never definitively committing to one significant statement or success. He dedicated himself to his artistic ideas but lacked the refinement to achieve widespread recognition. Nevertheless, Vantongerloo left deep marks on art history through his involvement with the magazine De Stijl and the artist group Abstraction-Création in Paris.

1915 KMSKA
Zelfportret 1916 KMSKA-Musse Oostende
1924-Constructie van een cirkel-Gugenheim
1930-Composition émanante de l'équation y = -ax2 + bx + 18 Gugenheim


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