Georges Vantongerloo

No. 98 2478 Red/135 Green


In Tate Modern

Georges Vantongerloo 1886–1965
Original title
No. 98 2478 rouge/135 vert
Oil paint on plywood
Support: 575 × 568 mm
frame: 814 × 959 × 65 mm
Purchased 1972

Display caption

Vantongerloo was one of the pioneers of a mathematical approach to abstract art. The first number in the title,’No.98’, is the figure Vantongerloo gave the work in his own catalogue. The rest of the numbers represent units of space in the painting. The basic unit (1) is the white rectangle and green stripe on the left of the bottom row. The second and third spaces along are each equivalent to two of these rectangles. Adding these numbers (1, 2, 2) cumulatively results in 1, 3 (1+2), 5 (3+2) for the green stripe section. The red row works on the same principle to give 2,4,7,8.

Gallery label, June 2021

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Catalogue entry

Georges Vantongerloo 1886-1965

T01574 No. 98 2478 Rouge/135 Vert (No. 98 2478 Red/135 Green) 1936

Inscribed on back of panel '2478 ROUGE/135 VERT | G. Vantongerloo | PARIS 1936' and 'No. 98'. (An earlier version of the inscription, apparently including the words 'ROUGE-VERT', has been painted out)
Oil on panel, 22 5/8 x 28 3/8 (57.5 x 72)
Purchased from the artist's estate through the Galerie Denise René Hans Mayer (Grant-in-Aid) 1972
Exh: Georges Vantongerloo: Bilder und Plastiken, Galerie Denise René Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf, November 1971-January 1972 (works not numbered, repr. in colour)

The number 98 is the number of this work in Vantongerloo's manuscript oeuvre-catalogue. The entry gives the title as '2478 Rouge/135 Vert' and lists no exhibition for it in the artist's lifetime (a reference to the 1971-2 Düsseldorf exhibition was added subsequently by Max Bill, in order to keep the catalogue up to date). However it apparently became Vantongerloo's usual practice later on to include the oeuvre-catalogue numbers as part of the titles.

Rouge/Vert refers to the fact that the upper row of vertical stripes is red and the lower row is green. Similarly the numbers 2478/135 appear to relate to the spacing of the colour stripes of the upper and lower rows reading cumulatively from left to right. Thus 2 + 2 = 4; 4 + 3 = 7; 7 + 1 = 8. The following work in the oeuvre-catalogue, 'No. 99 3457 Jaune/18 Bleu', has a structure which can be analysed in the same way. Careful measurements of the Tate's picture bear out that this system of proportions was used, but also show that Vantongerloo did not adhere to it exactly. He seems to have thought in terms of units each comprising a white rectangle and the colour stripe to its right. If one measures along the top, from the left-hand side to the far edge of the first stripe, then to the far edge of the next stripe and so on, one gets the following measurements: 16.2cm, 33cm, 59cm and 67cm. The corresponding figures along the bottom row are 8.9cm, 25.4cm and 40.2cm. (If one measures the white areas only, the discrepancies are greater). It is also the case that some of the lines are not exactly vertical or horizontal.

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, p.743, reproduced p.743


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