Fritz Glarner (American, born Switzerland, 18991972)
Oil on canvas; 20 x 20 in. (50.8 x 50.8 cm)
Gift of Celeste and Armand Bartos, 1983 (1983.579)
This painting typifies the geometric abstractions Fritz Glarner produced in New York after he emigrated to the United States in 1936. Glarner's mature works, such as this, were most strongly influenced by the Neoplastic theory of Piet Mondrian, with whom he associated in New York during the 1940s. However, his commitment to nonrepresentational art began in Paris in 1929, when he was a member of the Abstraction-Création group. Glarner adopted Mondrian's simplified vocabulary of forms and colors that were arranged without representational reference according to an architectonic structure. He modified the severity of Mondrian's geometry by introducing diagonal lines that changed rectangles into trapezoids and created irregular rhythmical patterns. In addition to the three primary colors of Mondrian's palette, Glarner included shades of gray. These alterations in color and form added a spatial dimension to his compositions, as well as a sense of movement and vitality. Although his treatment of the elements in this painting is strictly nonobjective, there is nevertheless a sense of urban architecture and dynamism.