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.
The Landi Chair (1938) was among the examples of international design in the exhibition Die Gute Form (Good Form), which the designer Max Bill curated on behalf of the Swiss Werkbund — an organization established in 1913 to promote good design — and which travelled to venues in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and The Netherlands from 1941–51.
Landi Chair was designed by Hans Corey and manufactured from bent and pressed aluminum.
Landi Chair Installation View With Kitchen Clock (1953) and Sun Lamp By Max Bill (1951)
“We’ve tried in this exhibition to dispense as much as possible with ‘appearance’ and focus instead on what is modest, true [and] even good,” Bill wrote in the exhibition catalogue.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, The Value of Good Design, on View at The Museum of Modern Art Through June 15th, 2019.