About this artwork
Widely considered Georges Vantongerloo’s first abstract painting, Étude No. 1 is the culmination of a series of increasingly complex geometric analyses of a seated female figure. Although difficult to discern within the cascades of overlapping circles, a body starts to emerge when we direct our eyes toward the red triangle at bottom. From this sharply pointed toe, legs and torso ascend, rising up along an axis that is also the physical centerline of the painting. Early critics sometimes faulted Vantongerloo for the draft-like or unfinished appearance of his work from this period, alluded to in the picture’s title. But the artist himself admired and sought out this hazy, lightly painted look, where interlocking solids and voids might suggest bodies in a state of perpetual motion.
- Georges Vantongerloo
- Étude No. 1
- Oil on pressboard
- 55 × 55 cm (21 5/8 × 21 5/8 in.)
- Through prior bequest of Joseph Winterbotham; partial gift of the Goldberg Family