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Marlow Moss, British Constructivist artist, enters the Rijksmuseum

Updated: May 18, 2023

Welcome back to the second post dedicated to recent museum acquisitions.

Today we move to the Netherlands, in Amsterdam, where on May 9th 2023 the Rijksmuseum has announced that three rare works of abstract art by British painter Marlow Moss (London, 1889-1958) have become part of the permanent collection of 20th century art, thanks to the financial support of a sponsor, two museum funds and a private benefactor.

The works are a painting from 1948, White and Black (no. 27), and two drawings from 1940 and 1957 respectively.

A founding member of Abstraction-Création since 1931, together with artists Piet Mondrian, Georges Vantongerloo and Jean Arp, Marlow Moss fully joined the European Constructivism, movement aimed at promoting the geometrical abstraction, built on the formal arrangement of horizontal lines and primary colours.

The artist, who was active between France and the Netherlands since 1927, before returning permanently to the UK in 1940 with the outbreak of the Second World War, preferred however talking about space, movement and light: the recurring double and truncated lines in her works - a Moss's distinctive feature - broke with the traditional constructivist aesthetic, evoking the abstraction of a corporeal movement, as argued by Gülce Özkara, in ”Space, Movement, and Body: Marlow Moss” Stedelijk Studies Journal 11 (2022).

Marlow Moss, White and Black (No 27 ), 1948. Oil on canvas, paint on wood. Purchased with the support of Pon and the Rijksmuseum Fonds: the Irma Theodora Fonds, the ‘Vrouwen van het Rijksmuseum’ Fonds (‘Women of the Rijksmuseum’ Fund), and a private benefactor

White and Black (no. 27) is Moss's only black-and-white composition currently known in Europe - much of her production was destroyed by fire in 1944, after an air raid on Normandy where she had the Studio.

A second black-and-white composition (Composition in Black and White Number 4, 1949) is today in the collection of the MoMA in NY.

Particularly interesting are also her drawings, preliminary studies for compositional themes to be transferred onto canvas and the result of an open-mindedness to other disciplines, such as music, mathematics and choreography, that profoundly influenced her image-making process.

Marlow Moss still remains not sufficiently recognised when compared to male colleagues, despite the personal exhibition Tate Britain devoted in 2014 to her pictorial and sculptural production.

Indeed, the support of the Women of the Rijksmuseum' Fund, aimed at promoting the visibility of the role of women in Dutch cultural history in relation to the museum's collections, has contributed making the acquisition of the painting possible.

Marlow Moss, Untitled, ca. 1957. Pencil on paper. Purchased with the support of Pon

Marlow Moss, Untitled (Red, Green and White Circles), c. 1940. Pencil, ink and gouache on paper. Purchased with the support of Pon

For a further reading about the art of Marlow Moss:


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