56 x 56 x 39 cm
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Silva-Casa Stiftung
einheit aus kugel und endloser spirale [unity of a sphere and an infinite spiral]
Max Bill (born 1908 in Winterthur, Switzerland, died 1994 in Berlin, Germany) worked in various media, but his main interest lie in painting, which he regarded as an experimental field for testing aesthetic ideas. These revolved around mass and order and were bound together in a rationally structural concept. He understood his artistic practice as a process of finding the best possible solution for each task, and he described his working technique as “shaping the environment according to the morphological method.” For each task, the creative process ultimately took control and would overwrite the rational concept.
Max Bill began working as an architect in Zurich in 1929 after having studied at the Bauhaus in Dessau during its second, functionally oriented phase. In 1932, he transformed his aesthetic ideal of “beauty as function” and “beauty of function” into material form when he created the new modular design (and thus a new style) for his artist's studio in the Höngg neighborhood of Zurich. Bill was a true Modernist artist: He was a painter, graphic designer, sculptor, architect, product designer, teacher, and author of many philosophical and practical works on fine and applied arts. He strove to create contemporary, harmonic living conditions that were befitting for a modern, technological society. He believed this could be done through art: the aesthetic superstructure.
Max Bill was a highly gifted propagandist of his ideals, but he was not a slave to doctrine. His founding principles of Concrete Art – the style he was primarily identified with – were modeled on Theo van Doesburg. He wrote his first manifesto on Concrete Art in 1936. While at the Bauhaus, Max Bill was a student in Paul Klee’s and Kandinsky’s painting classes, and in the early 1930s he went to Paris to visit Piet Mondrian, who played an inspirational role in his art. When something influenced him, he transformed it into his own creation, and his series of lithographs “15 variations sur un même thème” from 1936–38 became an icon of his elemental, combinational pictorial ideas. He also developed various thematic series of paintings – like his color experiments in square structures – and he explored the infinite loop in his sculptures. His vision, which combined purpose, situation, and formal appearance, found its greatest expression in his architectural and educational design for the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm in the 1950s. Max Bill continued to reside in Zurich while also traveling the world and acquiring a global network of like-minded, creative individuals, spreading his ideas as far as South America. He lived long enough to witness, with critical distance, the physiognomic change in Modernism and the pluralist dismantling of its universal spirit of ingenuity brought about by the emergence of the information society. Max Bill is still a representative of Modernism, especially through the authentic aura of his pictorial worlds and the expansive geometric aesthetic elegance of his sculptures, examples of which can be found, along with a copy of “15 variations,” in the Museum Haus Konstruktiv’s collection.
Margit Weinberg Staber