Étude pour femme assise
Date 1918
Medium Watercolour, gouache and pencil on paper
Dimensions 24.5 x 18.5 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-708
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The neoplasticism of Piet Mondrian is based on the exclusive use of vertical and horizontal straight lines and a palette limited to the three primary colours, to which black and white are added. This piece is therefore slightly older than neoplasticism, and corresponds to a time when Georges Vantongerloo was working with the simplicity and geometrization of shapes. This study, previously called Studies II, is associated, as if it were part of a triptych, with two other works entitled Studies I and Studies III, both of which belong to the Berardo Collection. The first painting, which is very naturalistic, shows a naked woman; the other two, which are very similar, are variations on a yellow blotch that could evoke the naked body in the first work. Since the dimensions of all three pictures are different, there is no evidence that this is a triptych. Another version (Chantal and Jokob Bill Collection, in Georges Vantongerloo, Gallimard, 2008, p.47) is very similar to this one but features variations in the colour (green is used instead of blue) and is wrongly entitled Étude pour homme assis [Study of a Seated Man], since earlier research shows it to be a woman. The painter is therefore moving from the figurative to the abstract. In fact, he illustrated his first article, which appeared in issue 9 of De Stijl (July 1918), with a series of drawings that explain his transition from the human figure (a seated nude) to geometric shapes. This figure is reproduced in the article.
Artist's collection, Paris: Max Bill, Zurich; private collection, Germany; Georges Leonard Hutton Gallery, New York; Keitelman Maurice Gallery, Brussels, acquired in 1998