Produced in different dimensions, Unendliche Spiralfläche (1973–74) belongs to the second phase in the work of Swiss artist Max Bill, when the role of mathematical and scientific thought became crucial,...
Produced in different dimensions, Unendliche Spiralfläche (1973–74) belongs to the second phase in the work of Swiss artist Max Bill, when the role of mathematical and scientific thought became crucial, providing him with a model more rigorous than language or any other system of communication. Its form derives in part from the spatial deformations and open surfaces studied by topology, most famously exemplified by the Möbius strip. However, while important in his work, mathematics are always accompanied by formal heterogeneity. Appearances notwithstanding, there is an echo here of the art and, above all, the method of Bill’s master, Paul Klee.
In Unendliche Spiralfläche as in other suspended sculptures by Bill, simplicity goes hand in hand with the capacity to integrate into the surroundings. In this respect, they exemplify concrete art, centered as it is on the idea of structure, on both conceptual and perceptual levels, and on the conception of the artwork as the visible, tangible representation of an abstract notion.
A painter, sculptor, architect, industrial designer, and teacher, ≠Bill saw all these activities as having equal importance; they are all, and to the same degree, methodically subjected to an exclusive logic or to “a logical art” (Valentina Anker): that of elementary visual structures and the relations— necessary and, as far as possible, not arbitrary—between internal elements. Attentive to the twin traditions of abstract art and Constructivism, Bill distanced himself from kinetic art, “the domain of jugglers, conjurors, the circus and the fairground” (Art as Non-Changeable Fact, 1967), and from abstraction conceived as a process attached to the experience of the world of appearances or to the transformation of natural forms.
Despite the interest of Jack Burnham in his aesthetic ideas— “there are no ’perfect forms,’ only the ability of the artist to reveal meaningful aspects of the same reality” (Beyond Modern Sculpture, 1968)—Bill was marginalized by the American Minimalists, as were Piet Mondrian, Victor Vasarely, and European geometric painting. His art enjoyed a revival of interest on the part of architects and designers in the 1990s.
- Riccardo Venturi From the book 'Suspension', by Matthieu Poirier, published by Olivier Malingue Ltd and Skira, Paris, 2018. Book available to purchase from the gallery for £35.
London, Olivier Malingue, Suspension – A History of Abstract Hanging Sculpture 1918–2018, 1 October - 15 December 2018.