portrait gv

Georges Vantongerloo
1886 - 1965

Belgian artist Georges Vantongerloo, born in 1886, had to earn his keep as a construction worker at Antwerp’s main train station during his youth. In his free time, he went to the Académie des Beaux Arts to draw Greek statues before going on to become a sculptor and painter. As a soldier in the first World War, he suffered lung damage from a German poison gas attack in a battle near Liège and afterwards received a small, lifelong disability pension from the Belgian state.

In 1915, he fled to the Netherlands with his brother Frans Vantongerloo (also a painter), where he met his future wife, Tine, and Theo van Doesburg, artist and editor of the legendary art journal ‘De Stijl’ that first appeared in 1917. Georges Vantongerloo was among the signatories of the ‘De Stijl Manifesto’; while in the Netherlands, he also engaged in intense study of Spinoza’s ‘Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order’.

In 1920, Vantongerloo met Piet Mondrian, with whom he lived for several years in the southern French city of Menton and then for a time in Paris.
Vantongerloo became a member of the ‘Cercle et Carré’ artists’ group in 1930; in the following year, he joined the internationally renowned ‘Abstraction-Création’ association of artists, later becoming the association’s secretary.

Max Bill joined «Abstraction-Création» in 1933. Documents by «Abstraction-Création» like correspondance, original photos of artworks etc. are part of the «Archive Georges Vantongerloo», which Georges Vantongerloo bequeathed to his lifelong friend Max Bill and after the death of Max Bill are now in care of his widow, Angela Thomas.


1886 Born in Antwerp
around 1900 Studies at the art academies in Antwerp and Brussels

First abstract artworks after reading Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’

Begins writing theoretical texts


First encounter with Theo van Doesburg in Leiden, Netherlands
Co-signatory of the first ‘De Stijl Manifesto’
Contributes to the ‘De Stijl’ journal

1920 First meets Piet Mondrian in Paris
1920-28 Lives in Menton, France
1928 Moves to Paris
1928-31 Correspondence with Belgian and French officials concerning the bridge project for Antwerp and the airport for Paris
1930 Participation in the ‘Cercle et Carré’ exhibition in Paris
1931-37 Co-founder and vice president of the group ‘Abstraction-Création’
Beginning of friendship with Max Bill
1936 Participation in the D.O.O.D. – De Olympiade onder Dictatuur (The Olympics Under Dictatorship) exhibition in Amsterdam
until 1937 Proponent of the de Stijl principle of horizontal-vertical compositions
from 1937 Uses curves in his compositions
1943 Solo exhibition ‘Georges Vantongerloo 1909–1939. 30 années de recherches’ in the de Berri gallery in occupied Paris
from 1945 Develops sculptures made of wire and coloured Plexiglas
1949 Joint exhibition with Max Bill and Antoine Pevsner at Kunsthaus Zürich
1961 Participation in the biennale for sculpture in Paris
1965 Participation in the first international biennale for sculpture in Athens
Dies in Paris, on 6 October