This painting, Expansion in Four Directions (1961 – 62), shares its lozenge shape and geometric divisions of color with many paintings by Piet Mondrian, whose work Max Bill (1908 – 1994) collected and in whom he was greatly interested. Bill trained at the Bauhaus in the 1920s under Josef Albers and was an architect and graphic designer as well as an artist. In his work, he aimed to transcend personal artistic expression to achieve universal communication, and to this end he used mathematics as a neutralizing compositional device.
The subject of an exhibition at the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo in 1950 and winner of the grands prize for sculpture at the Sao Paulo Bienal in 1951, he helped to introduce a generation of Latin American artists to European geometric abstraction. Bill designed the catalogue for a 1955 Mondrian exhibition at the Zurich Kusthaus and lent to it three Mondrian paintings in his collection.
Henryk Stażewski (1894-1988) was a Polish painter, considered to be a pioneer of the classical avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s. Stażewski was a foremost representative of the Constructivist movement, as well as the co-creator of the Geometric Abstract art movement, and a member of the Cercle et Carré group of abstract painters based in Paris. In the second half of the 1950s Stażewski supplemented his visual language with a new element – the Relief. This form would supplant pure painterly media in his art for the next twenty years. Initially his reliefs had a very loose structure and were built of colorful, rough-textured elements that referenced organic forms (Relief, c. 1955). His reliefs of the 1960s were characterized by elements covered in ‘half-tone screens’ that energized their surface by creating the illusion of vibration. Color Relief was painted in 1963.