83 x 66 cm
Tempera on fiberboard
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Opus 89 A
The painter, art theoretician, and architect Hans Hinterreiter (born 1902 in Winterthur, Switzerland, died 1989 in Ibiza, Spain) was close friends with the Zurich Concretes. His artistic and scholarly works are, however, evidence of how he pursued his own unique investigation into the inherent principles of form and color.
Hinterreiter studied architecture at the ETH in Zurich, during which he painted stylized landscapes in his free time. The radical change in his painterly style toward Constructivist painting occurred in 1929, when he was studying the mathematical principles of color harmony formulated by Wilhelm Ostwald in his writings. Hinterreiter decided to apply Ostwald’s color system, which consists of 680 color norms and their mutual relationships, by working on a corresponding “color and form organ.” This collection of elementary geometric structures was meant to serve as an inventory offering a wide variety of rhythmic compositions to be used by artists. Hans Hinterreiter published his reflections on philosophy, mathematics, and music in his treatise “Die Kunst der reinen Form” in 1936.
Based on his own theory and inspired by the seclusion of the island of Ibiza, Hinterreiter developed his own unique painterly practice. In the years after 1930, his “poems of form and color,” as the artist called his works, were meshes of decorative, rotating, and reflecting clusters, like in a kaleidoscope. After visiting the Alhambra (1934), he began integrating elements of Moorish ornaments in his works. Beginning in the 1940s, he let focal points break up the crystalline pattern in the center or the edges of his sketches and paintings. The results are often curved structures that fit into precisely composed angular or round picture formats. Hinterreiter’s later works “SWF 83” and “Opus 89A” illustrate his tendency to lend the picture surface a dynamic appearance. As beholders, our eyes are able to perceive an ever-changing impression of abstract forms and bright colors that has the effect of pulling us into the picture.
The first solo show devoted to the artist’s work was held as late as the 1970s in the Kunstmuseum Winterthur and finally granted him the recognition that was long overdue. Hinterreiter’s theoretical and artistic merits of systematizing color and form and creating new combinations of old principles resulted in innovative aesthetic solutions that have enriched geometric and Constructivist painting. According to Hinterreiter, “It is not chaos, but order that we perceive as beautiful and delightful.”