4 parts: each 100 x 29.5 cm
Screenprint on paper
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Untitled (4 Sujets) [4 Subjects]
Gottfried Honegger (born 1917 in Zurich, Switzerland, where he died in 2016) opened a studio for graphic art, illustration, and photography in Zurich in 1938 together with Warja Lavater, who he later married. Through the studio, he soon became a leading representative of modern graphic design in Switzerland. In his artistic work, he first began focusing on organic abstractions, before developing a consistently constructivist artistic language around 1957. He lived in New York from 1958 to 1960, where he got to know local avant-garde circles. His contact with artists like Al Held, Sam Francis, and Mark Rothko inspired him to develop a new pictorial language that is best exemplified in the thematic series of works called “Tableau-relief,” followed by many other series, such as “Biseautage,” “Volume,” “Structure,” and “Tableau-Espace.”
Honegger most often explored his artistic themes in extensive series of works, some of which stretched over years, or even decades. For example, he used the same artistic principles to pursue the concept of the “Tableau-relief” from 1957 to the 1980s. For these, he took small pieces of cardboard that he had either painted in thin, translucent layers of paint or rubbed with graphite and attached them to the picture support, creating a reflecting and membranous surface structure with a subtle relief effect. Rationality and intuition, chance and calculation thus form a synthesis in his works – for example, in his painting “Tableau-relief Z. 940” from 1986, in which a strictly rational square grid is combined with a painterly and sensuous, shimmering black surface. The theme of synthesis that runs like a thread through Honegger’s entire oeuvre can be seen most clearly in this series of works. It is also apparent in his harmonic combination of colors and rhythmic ensemble of forms in, for example, the four screen prints “Untitled” from 2005, as well as in the interaction of the flat, square picture and the circular incision in his “Tableau-relief C. 1411” from 2004.
Honegger’s credo of striving for an “ecology of beauty” in his public artworks (which he began creating in the 1970s) was based on the idea that it was the artist’s responsibility to help aestheticize and ethically sensitize society. He was constantly finding new ways of addressing this task – as a graphic designer, artist, writer, art educator, art collector, and a founding member of the Stiftung für konstruktive und konkrete Kunst in Zurich and the Espace de l’Art Concret in Mouans-Sartoux in France. The latter was established when Honegger donated the large collection of works from various Constructivist movements, which he and his life partner Sybil Albers had accumulated, to the French state in 2005 after having lived in Mouans-Sartoux for a long time. Honegger was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest cultural distinction in France, for his accomplishments in 1999.