Lot 246
  • 246

Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart
  • Composition no. 56
  • signed Vordemberge-Gildewart, inscribed K no. 56, dated 1930  and stamped with the studio stamp on the stretcher 
  • oil on canvas
  • 60.5 by 80.5cm., 23 3/4 by 31 3/4 in.


Basler Kunstverein, Switzerland (a gift from the artist in 1942; sold to benefit the renovation of the Kunsthalle Basel: Christie's, Amsterdam, 25th November 2003, lot 198)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannoverische Sezession, 1930
Stockholm, Parkrestauranten, Internationell Utställning av Post-Kubistik Konst, 1930
Rome, Bragaglia fuori commercio, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, 1934
Milan, Galleria del Milione, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, 1934
Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart - Laszlo Maholy-Nagy, 1967, illustrated in the catalogue
Basel, Kunstverein Basel, Kunsthalle, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart - Camille Graeser - Frank Danskin, 1967, illustrated in the catalogue
London, Annely Juda Fine Art, The Non-Objective World 1914-1924, 1970, no. 51a
Basel, Galerie Liatowitsch, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, 1973
Ulm, Ulmer Museum, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, 1975
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kunstgeschichte, Vordemberge-Gildewart, 1975
Munich, Haus der Kunst & Essen, Museum Folkwang, Die 30er Jahre. Schauplatz Deutschland, 1977, no. 173
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Deutschland 1930-1939. Verbot-Anpassung-Exil, 1977
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunstgeschichte & Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Abstraction - Création 1931-1936, 1978, illustrated in the catalogue
Ludwigshaven am Rhein, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart 1899-1960. Gemälde-Werkskizzen, 1985, illustrated in the catalogue
Hanover, Sprengel Museum & Ludwigshaven am Rhein, Die Abstrakten Hannover. Internationale Avantgarde 1927-35, 1987-88, illustrated in the catalogue
Valencia, IVAM Centro Julio Gonzalez & Wiesbaden, Museum Wiesbaden, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, 1997, no. K56, illustrated in the catalogue
London, Tate Modern, Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New World, 2009, London, no. 216 illustrated in the catalogue


Hans L.C. Jaffé, Vordemberge-Gildewart. Mensch und Werk, Cologne, 1971, illustrated
Jost Schäfer, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart. Studien zu einer beschreibender Werkanalyse, Frankfurt am Main, 1984, illustrated
Jong Holland, The Hague, May 1987, vol. III no. 2, illustrated n.p.
Dietrich Helms & Arta Valstar-Verhoff, Vordemberge-Gildewart: The complete works, Munich, 1990, no. K56, illustrated in colour p. 272


The canvas is not lined. UV light examination reveals a minor spot of retouching to the upper left quadrant as well as a few small spots of retouching to the off-white pigment on the right of the composition. Otherwise, this work is in very good condition
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The exploration of non-figurative art was Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart’s principal preoccupation. Without object nor content, he strived to achieve his notion of 'absolute art'  a concept which arose in a lecture given in 1925 at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hannover, in which form, colour, texture, contrast of elements, time and space were the only objects. He maintained that in order to reach art’s highest form of purity, painting must be abstract. In art’s rational and self-referential credo, he thus boldly strove against Kandinsky’s popular theory of the possibility of achieving a degree of spirituality in art.

Studying in Hannover 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 20th century. In 1924 he became a member of the ‘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 becomes 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-creation’ group in Paris in 1931, which allowed him to come into contact with the Futurists.

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, Vordemberge-Gildewart: The complete works, Munich, 1990, p. 33).