When Square meets Round

Square and Circle in the Marli Hoppe-Ritter Collection

From 15 May to 3 October:

Dr. Barbara Willert und Hsiaosung Kok

As is generally known, everything in the Marli Hoppe-Ritter Collection revolves around the square as the form and content of artistic production. When surveying the now over 1,000 works in the collection, it is striking just how often the square meets up with the circle as a compositional element. It is precisely these works in the Collection, where both motifs equally play a central role, that are at the focus of this exhibition under the capricious banner of “When Square meets Round”.

The basic forms of square and circle are mathematically simple and clearly defined. The circle has neither a beginning nor an end, neither direction nor orientation. As a result of its harmonious perfection it is often taken as a symbol of infinity or the sublime. Nor does the square have any inherent orientation. Of all the rectangles it is the most uniform because it has the most symmetrical aspects and thus often radiates stability and a sense of being grounded. Due to their special geometry, both the square and the circle are exceptionally suited to giving systematic structure to a picture. So it is little surprise that the two forms are highly prized constitutional elements in Concrete and Constructive Art.

But what does the encounter between square and circle actually look like in a composition? Which of the properties of the two forms do artists tend to use? Are there recognisable procedures for employing the square and the circle?


Channa Horwitz, Circle and Square Negative, 2005 © Inheritance Channa Horwitz

Otto Piene, Copper Play, 2011/2014 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016

Jürgen Paas, Jeu de Couleurs, 2008 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016