51 x 51 cm
Gouache on paper
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Das Progressive Museum Basel
The Hungarian artist Etienne Béothy (born István Béothy in 1897 in Heves, Hungary, died 1961 in Paris, France) is most famous for his unique sculptures that straddle the border between figuration and abstraction. However, his oeuvre also includes a great number of Constructivist sketches, drawings, and paintings. Like many other Hungarian artists, Béothy immigrated to Paris after the First World War for political reasons and to continue his work in a more favorable intellectual climate. Together with Auguste Herbin and Georges Vantongerloo, in 1932 he founded the important artists’ association Abstraction-Création, which became an international forum for the promotion of the Constructivist and Concrete Art movements.
Béothy’s investigation of the basic theory of proportions – particularly the golden section – led him to write “La Serie d’Or” in 1919 and it influenced his future work. His sculpture “Der Goldene Schnitt” [The Golden Section], which is in the collection of the Haus Konstruktiv is a classic example of this. His two other core themes, harmony and rhythm, can also be found not only in his sculptures, but also in his drawings and paintings. Early on, the artist chose wood as his favorite material. Already in the 1930s, his work shifted from statues depicting humans and lovers to abstract, biomorphic forms. Although these were always concretions of aspects taken from real life, they did not always appear modern, but sometimes rather like classical sculptures from antiquity. Béothy’s sculptures express a wish for harmony and elevation through their intertwining swells and rhythmic outbursts. The seemingly concise and lightweight figures from his later period as well as the well-proportioned color fields in his paintings are rooted in a kind of sensuality and emotional power.
Etienne Béothy’s main artistic goal was to convey the universal value of harmony – the quintessence of life – in a scientific and esoteric sense, rather than to demonstrate absolute control over intuition through principles. There is no mutual exclusion between progress and classical art, or nature and culture, in his work.