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
|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