35.7 x 51 cm
Ink (pen and brush) and tempera on paper
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Sammlung Rolf und Friedel Gutmann
Grün-lila Konstruktion [Green-purple construction]
Of all the Zurich Concretists, Camille Graeser (born 1892 in Carouge, Switzerland, died 1980 in Wald, Switzerland) can be regarded as the most poetic and as a visual musician. Like his Zurich artist friends Max Bill, Verena Loewensberg, and Richard Paul Lohse, the principles of his art are derived from logical compositions based on geometry – the dimensions and values of colors, forms, and lines – and yet, his painterly, graphic, and sculptural work is also defined by a very personal lyrical and musical dimension.
Graeser was a successful interior architect, product designer, and advertising graphic designer in Stuttgart until he was forced to flee to Zurich after the Nazis came to power in 1933. Only very few of his expressive and cubist-futurist drawings and water colors from that time survived. In 1937, Graeser became a member of the artists’ association Allianz, which publically promoted new artistic tendencies, especially Concrete Art as represented by Hans Arp and Theo van Doesburg. From then on, his work was characterized by the principles of Concrete Art, and his compositions were soon dominated by horizontal and vertical lines and squares. In the 1940s, he applied systematic principles of composition – such as addition, progression, rotation, and the rhythmical use of elements – to create a playful impression. From the 1950s on, he also created dynamic compositions with bars in which he consistently investigated the relations between forms and colors. Complementary bars or stripes of color are placed next to one another or are accompanied by squares, as in “Quanten-Äquivalenz an der Horizontalen," in which each color takes up the same amount of space as the other colors. In his later works, a little square occasionally breaks out of rank – as, for example, in his so-called dislocation or translocation works.
The artist not only created drawings and paintings, he also constructed painted wooden bas-reliefs as well as rod sculptures, and from 1965 on, he made artist’s multiples and screen prints based on already realized pictorial ideas. Camille Graeser’s pictorial logic is enriched with poetry and is unique for Concrete Art. His works are a visual symphony in which color seems to transform into sound.