60 x 60 cm
Oil on canvas
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Permanent loan, Estate Barbara and Hans-Ulrich Doerig
Bewegung von vier kontrastierenden Gruppen aus einem Zentrum [Movement of four contrasting groups from a center]
Richard Paul Lohse (born 1902 in Zurich, Switzerland, where he died in 1988) wanted to study to become an artist, but his plans were brought to an end by the early death of his father. When he was 16 years old, he therefore became an apprentice in the advertising office of Max Dalang in Zurich. In 1930, he became a freelance graphic designer. He edited and designed the magazine “Bauen + Wohnen” from 1947 to 1956 and was the coeditor of the magazine “Neue Grafik” from 1958 to 1985. Although Lohse had a major influence on the history of modern graphic design in Switzerland, he is still primarily known as a key representative of Constructivist and Concrete Art. In both of these creative fields, Lohse had high aesthetic expectations, coupled with a deeply ethical attitude that was an expression of his belief that “aesthetics cannot be defined without defining their social basis.”
After he initially made figurative and abstract art, Lohse became fascinated with Russian Constructivism and the De Stijl movement, and he adopted a geometric pictorial language in the middle of the 1930s. He worked with systematic diagonal and orthogonal structures, including the motif of the fugue, which can be seen in his gouache “Variation eines Fugenthemas” from 1952/1958. Around 1940, while focusing on the aspect of “combinatorics as a method,” Lohse began to explore his fundamental beliefs in his theoretical writings, which he called “Entwicklungslinien”. He first noted down his systematic orders derived from mathematical group theory in drafts made with colored pens. He painted several of these years later, as can be seen in his method of writing the dates (idea/realization). As Lohse successively continued to develop his “modular and serial orders” in the 1940s, he switched to non-hierarchical systems that cover the entire picture and are based on the unification of the means, structure, and format of the picture. His “modular orders” series primarily comprise complementary groups of colors that can be arranged in rows, as in his screen prints “Drei komplementäre Kontraste” and “Durchdringung von drei horizontalen Bändern”, both of which are part of a series of square pictures – or the colors can interact by interlocking or crossing each other or by rotating around an axis, as in “Vier verbundene Gruppen” or “Zwei Bewegungen um eine Achse”. His “serial orders,” on the other hand, are chromatic sequences with up to thirty elements that are arranged in cyclical or double cyclical color chains and often have a highly dynamic structure.
The virtually infinite possibilities of color and formal combinations resulting from Richard Paul Lohse’s method have often been referred to as “ars combinatoria” and are what makes his work – painting, drawing, prints, and art in architecture – so unique. He has helped to reposition Constructivist and Concrete Art and has had a decisive impact on the work of younger generations. Lohse enjoyed great international esteem, and he participated in many exhibitions. He belonged to the inner circle of the Zurich Concretists, together with Max Bill, Camille Graeser, and Verena Loewensberg, and was honored with the City of Zurich Art Award in 1973. He was also appointed “Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” in France in 1987. His estate became part of the Richard Paul Lohse Foundation in Zurich in 1987.