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A striking example of non-figurative tensions and contrasting elements, Composition no. 56, executed in 1930, can be considered as anticipating Op-Art. Through surface and composition, a haptic and optic involvement from the viewer is called upon by the artist. The almost monochromatic palette is contrasted by the muted yellow piercing through the surface of the canvas, and a trompe-l’œil effect is achieved by contrasting different hues of white. In a letter to Dietrich Helms on the 9th December 1952, Vordemberge-Gildewart clearly articulates his artistic aims in his assertion that his paintings should be ‘audacious enough to make demands on the viewer and make him go along and play an active part in the journey (a visual journey)! This fact is one of the main differences between renaissance painting and an absolutist painting!’ (quoted in Dietrich Helms & Arta Valstar-Verhoff, op. cit., p. 33).
Studying in Hanover from 1919-1922, Vordemberge-Gildewart’s beginnings are unsurprisingly related to the field of architecture, sculpture, and interior design. Plasticity and modelling provide the basis for his future two and three-dimensional paintings. At the forefront of the intellectual avant-garde, Vordemberge-Gildewart’s name is linked to the most prominent conceptual artists active in Europe in the twentieth century. In 1924 he became a member of Der Sturm group in Berlin, and became acquainted with the greatest names of non-figurative art such as Kurt Schwitters, Jean Arp, and Theo Van Doesburg, eventually becoming involved in the De Stijl the following year, and founding his own Die Abstrakten Hannover group in 1927. He finally became involved in the Parisian avant-garde when given his first solo show in 1929 at the Galerie Povolozky and as a founder-member of the highly influential Abstraction-Création group in Paris in 1931, which brought him into contact with the Futurists.
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