Georges Vantongerloo

Interrelation of Volumes


Not on display

Georges Vantongerloo 1886–1965
Original title
Rapport des volumes
Object: 225 × 137 × 137 mm
Purchased 1978

Display caption

Vantongerloo’s aim was to ‘render visible the beauty of space’. This work is one of his earliest abstract sculptures. It attempts to give solid form to the relationships between pure, geometric shapes. Vantongerloo made contact with the De Stijl group while working in The Hague in 1917. He immediately began experimenting with abstraction. ‘If in sculpture, the interrelation of volumes achieves unity’ he wrote, ‘it is because everything is balanced.’

Gallery label, April 2012

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Catalogue entry

Georges Vantongerloo 1886-1965

T02306 Rapport des Volumes (Interrelation of Volumes) 1919

Inscribed 'VTL' in monogram on base plane
Sandstone, 8 7/8 x 5 3/8 x 5 3/8 (22.5 x 13.5 x 13.5)
Purchased at Christie's (Grant-in-Aid) 1978
Prov: Prof. and Mrs Philip Sandblom, Lund and Lausanne (purchased from the artist); sold by them at Christie's, London, 4 April 1978, lot 44, repr. in colour
Exh: Exposition Internationale d'Art Moderne, Bâtiment électoral, Geneva, December 1920-January 1921 (Belgium 127 or 128, both entitled 'Construction des Rapports des Volumes'); Internationell Utställning Post-Kubistisk Konst, Parkrestauranten, Stockholm, August-September 1930 (87) as 'Skulptur VIII. Rapports des Volumes. Sandsten'; Samling S, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, June-July 1967 (86, repr.)
Lit: Gunnar Hellman, 'Vart tog tavlorna vägen? - Många gåtor alltjämt olösta i konkretistfiaskot 1930' in Aftonbladet, 13 June 1957, p.3; Dagens Nyheter, 15 October 1957, p.1, repr.
Repr: De Stijl, III, No.2, December 1919, facing p.23 (the right-hand plate) as one of two sculptures of 1919 by Vantongerloo; Georges Vantongerloo, Paintings, Sculptures, Reflections (New York 1948), fig.6

This sculpture is No.13 in Vantongerloo's manuscript oeuvre-catalogue, now in the possession of his executor Max Bill, and is recorded under the title 'Rapport des Volumes' with a note that it was made in Brussels in 1919.

It was included in an exhibition Internationell Utställning av Post-Kubistisk Konst in Stockholm in 1930 arranged by the painter Otto G. Carlsund, devoted to 'Cubism, Post-Cubism, Purism, Constructivism, Neo-Plasticism, Surrealism and Sur-Impressionism'. Unfortunately this exhibition, which contained many fine works, proved to be too far in advance of its time and was a financial and organisational disaster. When the exhibition closed people who were owed money by Carlsund came and took paintings and sculptures, even if they still belonged to the artists. Vantongerboo managed to recover his two paintings in 1934, but both sculptures lent by him were lost for twenty-five years until they were found by chance amongst rubbish in a cupboard in a framer's shop in Stockholm on 16 December 1955. After being the subject of a law suit in October 1957, they were returned to the artist. This piece was afterwards bought by Professor Philip Sandblom from his studio in Paris in 1959, and Vantongerloo said that he would use the proceeds for a trip to the far north to see the Aurora Borealis, in which he was greatly interested at the time.

Although he published a schematic compositional analysis of a sculpture by Archipenko 'The Gondolier' in De Stijl, I, as early as September 1918, his early references to sculpture are mostly in terms of an interrelationship of volumes and voids. It seems unlikely therefore that this sculpture is based on any geometrical system of proportions, whereas this is characteristic of his later sculptures of the same type and is indicated by their titles. For example, the similar sculpture of 1924 in the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation in Venice is known as 'Construction in an Inscribed and a Circumscribed Square of a Circle'.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.742-3, reproduced p.742

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