This presentation of the collection gives an overview of the developments in Geometrical Abstraction from 1919 to the present. With a selection of some 70 works, which includes numerous new acquisitions, the show focuses especially on painting and is rounded off by a number of reliefs and art objects.
The exhibition begins with collages and paintings by the historical avant-gardes: using a visual language based on pure forms and colours, the artists of De Stijl, the Bauhaus, and also international Constructivism strived to fashion a better world for a new society. Already by the first decades of the twentieth century Paris had become a centre for abstraction, and even in the forties and fifties it remained a melting pot for progressive artists. Among the major protagonists was Auguste Herbin, who developed a system of painting designed to lend visibility to a “spiritual reality”.
With Josef Albers and Johannes Itten, a number of whose paintings are being shown from the sixties, two outstanding teacher-painters will feature in the exhibition who constantly investigated the effects of colour. Even though their works are based on serial principles, the colours always come into their own as a lively, gently vibrating phenomenon. Against this, the art of the Zurich Concretists and also the Hard Edge painters is marked by sobriety and precision. While the paintings of Camille Graeser, for instance, are constructed on the basis of logical relations between the forms, the contrasting colour surfaces in Günther C. Kirchberger’s works have a signal-like impact. Contemporary works show us that every imaginable material can act as a vehicle for aesthetic alienation. Thus Henrik Eiben playfully explores the sensual qualities of stainless steel, gloss paint and leather, transforming these into a monumental folded object. Other works show for their part that even the visual ideas of the avant-gardes can be used as a springboard for new, original visual approaches.
Josef Albers, Max Bill, Alighiero Boetti, Geneviève Claisse, Henrik Eiben, Otto Freundlich, Jean Gorin, Camille Graeser, Auguste Herbin, Hannah Höch, Johannes Itten, Rudolf Jahns, Günther C. Kirchberger, Ivan Kljun, Jim Lambie, Christiane Reiter, Karl-Peter Röhl, Stefanie Senge, Anton Stankonwski, Manuela Tirler and Andor Weininger
Image: Geneviève Claisse, Turin, 1959 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019, Foto: Gerhard Sauer