Catalogue entry

T03374 Counter-Composition VI 1925

Oil on canvas 19 11/16 × 19 11/16 (500 × 500)

Inscribed ‘HAUT’ on top bar of stretcher and ‘THEO VAN DOESBURG/1925’ on back of canvas
Purchased from the estate of Frau Ilse E. Vordemberge-Leda through Juda Rowan Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1982

Prov: Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, Hannover (from the artist, by exchange 1925); Frau Ilse E. Vordemberge-Leda, Rapperswil
Exh: Theo Van Doesburg 1883–1931, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, December 1968–January 1969 (A35); Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, February–March 1969 (A35); Kunsthalle, Nuremberg, April–June 1969 (A30); Kunsthalle, Basle, August–September 1969 (A30); Vordemberge-Gildewart Remembered, Annely Juda Fine Art, July–September 1974 (43, repr.); Abstraction-Création 1931–1936, Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster, April–June 1978 (Van Doesburg 1, repr.); Line and Movement, Annely Juda Fine Art, June–September 1979 (13, repr.); The 1st Russian Show, Annely Juda Fine Art, September–December 1983 (92, repr.)
Repr: De Stijl, VII, no.78, 1927, p.92 as ‘Contre-Compositie’ 1925; The Tate Gallery Illustrated Biennial Report 1982–84, 1984, p.44

Van Doesburg painted his first ‘Counter-Composition’ in 1924, the title denoting that the lines of the composition are at 45 degrees to the sides of the picture instead of being parallel to them, so that there is a dynamic interaction between the composition and the format of the canvas. The sketch for this particular work in an ‘elementarist’ sketchbook in the Van Doesburg archive at the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, shows that it was originally conceived as a lozenge (that is to say hung obliquely by a corner), though the picture itself is inscribed ‘HAUT’ along the top bar of the stretcher, which indicates that it was meant to be hung in the conventional manner.

This picture belonged to the German abstract painter Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, who joined the de Stijl group in 1924 and obtained it from Van Doesburg in Paris in 1925 in exchange for two of his own works.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986