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Fritz Glarner


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Painter and printmaker. From the mid-1940s, he focused on Relational Paintings composed of rectangular or nearly rectangular shapes in simple color combinations. Although inspired by the example of Mondrian's neoplasticism, Glarner's works are less rigid, less doctrinaire, and visually more fluid. As well, he often employed circular formats. In the characteristic Relational Painting (Whitney Museum, 1949–51), color is limited to his usual red, blue, and yellow, along with black, white, and two shades of gray. Most of the flat, geometric elements deviate slightly from pure rectangles, suggesting subtle adjustments to compositional pressure across the surface. While reduced in means, the composition is intuitively structured, producing a dynamic interplay between discipline and freedom. Although born in Zurich, Glarner spent most of his early years in Naples, where he studied at the Royal Institute of Fine Arts from 1914 to 1920. After moving to Paris in 1923, he absorbed the influence of Cézanne, Robert Delaunay, and other leading modernists as he gradually developed a semi-abstract style. For nine months in 1930–31 he lived in New York but then returned to Paris. In 1935 he relocated to Zurich for a year before heading back to New York, where he soon began to exhibit with the American Abstract Artists as he purified his style. He was naturalized as a United States citizen in 1944. From 1957 he lived in Huntington, on Long Island, but toward the end of his life returned to Switzerland. He died in Locarno.

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