The Swiss Grid System — and the Dutch Total Grid (Richard P Lohse)

Richard Paul Lohse (1902-1988) was born in Zürich (Switzerland) in 1902. In 1918 he joined the advertising agency Max Dalang where he trained to be an advertising artist, but in his artistic career he started with figurative works and gradually moved to post-cubism style. Lohse worked for the Max Dalang agency until 1927, where he became interested in the international avant-garde movements in both its artistic and political aspects. In 1937 Lohse, a key figure in the “Swiss School”, and Leo Leuppi joined forces to establishAllianz, an association of Swiss modern artists, promoting publications, exhibitions and the dissemination of avant-garde art. He collaborated with Max Bill and Verena Loevesberg in the Zurcher Konkrete group, which was affiliated with Allianz. In 1938, Lohse and Irmgard Burchard, his first wife, organise the “Twentieth Century German Art” exhibition in London. Soon after Lohse joined the resistance movement where he met his second wife Ida Alis Dürner. In 1942 Lohse formulated his conception of constructive painting, a style that was highly structural. In the words of Fr. W. Heckmanns;

His horizontal and vertical structures follow each other in serial and modular orders within the rectangular limits of the canvas. The essential content of his work is a rational interpretation of the relationship between artistic practice and the problem of the form of social organization, in short a human attitude towards the balance of law and freedom.

In the years 1947-1956, Lohse was an editor and designer for the swiss architectural magazinebauen+wohnen or construction+habitation. A special edition of the magazine was launched for Germany in 1952. Lohse’s style was characterized by his devotion to precision and clarity in his theoretical framework. He saw structure not as a preliminary foundation but as a totality of concept in the image. He conceptualized the canvas as a field of interacting modules, in which the color and the form are complementary in creation of a formal color structure.

Richard Paul Lohse, “Fifteen systematic vertical color lines with diagonal violet”, 1975


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