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Siebe Hansma and the legacy from de Stijl

It was from Holland that modern art desirous of profiting from research received its stimulus.
Of the many Dutch artists working in the first few dacades of this century it was Piet Mondrian
and Theo van Doesburg more than any others who drew up the lines of research which were
to result in the view that the point of a picture is no longer geometrical or representational.
Their work provided staggering experiences of forms that, while lacking an object or a
background, nevertheless were objects without having the associations of objects. Kandinsky
and Malevitch were left behind and it was into the hands of the Russian Constructivists as
well as De Stijl that the initiative passed.
All these tendencies, crossing and running parallel to each other, led to the focal point of
development in the twenties, the Bauhaus in Germany.

In the Bauhaus it was Itten, Albers and Moholy Nagy rather than Kandinsky who drove
research forward along the lines sketched by De Stijl, while Herbin in France prepared the way
for the new reality. The tendency towards neoplasticism and the kind of art that is plastic in
plane but has no three-dimensional illusion was the decisive element in the renewal of an art
that was no longer abstract but consistently concrete and constructivist.
The renewal came with Max Bill, Lohse, Baertling and Mortensen. Optical effects were studied
with great intensity. The surface of Mondrian's wall became airier in later works.
'Broadway Boogie Woogie' guided young artists maturing alter the Second World War
towards new positions. The written doctrine was supplied by Albers.
A new word was coined OP-art.

It is in this large context that Siebe Hansma's work must be seen. He bears the imprint of
Dutch avant-gardism. Consistency in artistic research is decisive in his work. He is systematic
and a purist. His greypainted wooden surfaces and works in sheet-zinc become immaterial in
character. Their surfaces are dissolved by the relief. Wood is no longer wood and zinc is no
longer zinc; they are transmuted into a shimmer that causes their very foundations to
evaporate before the eyes of the viewer.

Siebe Hansma's work may be likened to a broad field of research in which certain themes are
cultivated in a pure strain and varied in series. It is not the forms themselves that are
responsible for this but the fecund connections between the different forms in the work.
Permutations are the basis of the system that drives the realization of this themes forwards.
The balance between horizontal and vertical is consistently carried out in Mondrian's spirit.
Hansma systematically varies his drawings, reliefs and sculptures, and what might be termed
intuition guides him towards those combinations of form that produce the most fruitful results.
His series force him on to further research -onwards to new positions.

Teddy Brunius, 1983

Prof. Dr.Teddy Brunius, 1922 - 2011
1978 - 1992 Professor of art history at the University of Copenhagen