Georges Vantongerloo
Composition (RN5674), 1944

Georges Vantongerloo’s name and work are linked with two groups of artists who helped to shape Modernism: in 1918, after emigrating from Belgium, he became a member of ‘De Stijl’. Later he founded the ‘abstraction-création’ group with Jean Arp, Albert Gleizes, Jean Hélion, Auguste Herbin and Frantizek Kupka in 1931. Vantongerloo’s paintings are based on an insight that he had garnered from Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’: that the universe presents itself as something in which everything is acting and necessarily creating effects. Thus matter is not something solid and fixed: instead, according to Vantongerloo, the ‘so-called inanimate bodies’, ‘are energies’, and they effectively form a spiritual space. Space as a question of sculptural shape and volume was not the answer to the search for ‘space’ as essence. Instead, it is the aspects of space, movement and time, which are inherent in all things to an equal extent, and which are perceived in relation to each other, that captivate Vantongerloo. Vantongerloo’s line pictures start with mathematical function equations, which link with investigations into the relationship of mathematics, aesthetics and nature.

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