Friedrich Vordemberge Gildewart PortraitBorn in Osnabrück, Germany on November 17, 1899, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart moved to Hanover in 1919 to study architecture and sculpture at the Kunstgewerbeschule and the Technische Hochschule. That same year he began to paint, employing a purely nonobjective vocabulary that he continued to use throughout his career.

While in Hanover, Vordemberge-Gildewart met El Lissitzky , Kurt Schwitters, Jean Arp, and Theo van Doesburg, who invited him to join De Stijl in 1924. In 1925 he participated in the Paris exhibition L’art d’aujourd’hui, which featured a strong De Stijl presentation, and in 1927, Vordemberge-Gildewart, Schwitters, Hans Nitzschke, and Carl Buchheister formed the avant-garde group Die Abstrakten Hannover, championing abstraction in their region.

Committed to a nonobjective idiom, Vordemberge-Gildewart referred to his practice as “absolute art,” or art devoid of representation. From 1934 through the 1940s, he used color, form, and contrast to investigate the possibility of visual equilibrium among geometrically unequal components.
Works like Composition No. 96 (1935) demonstrate his dedication to geometric abstraction with an emphasis on diagonal form. Often creating multiple versions of the same work, the artist would reconfigure the primary elements to investigate each component’s role in the composition. He also experimented with materials such as sand to create a textural quality that he designated rauh, or “rough.”
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