One of the first artists to spend his entire career using the language of abstraction, Vordemberge-Gildewart was well-known for his use of free-floating, linear diagonal elements, as seen in Composition No. 96 (1935). In the two vertical elements at the center of the canvas, the artist uses distinct colors divided along a diagonal axis to communicate a sense of contrast and movement. The effect is further enhanced by the smaller, darker, and diagonally oriented black rectangle at left. The artist appears to have been concerned about the compositional problems posed by his strictly nonobjective style; in 1937, during a lengthy visit to the artist Max Bill in Zurich, he produced a full sheet of sketches with variations on the theme, none of which he ever used for paintings.
Vordemberge-Gildewart’s earliest experiments with the unique texture apparent in Composition No. 96 (1935) began in 1933 when he introduced sand into his work. The sand contributes a textural quality in the stippled areas that the artist designated rauh or “rough.” He would employ this practice only occasionally in later works.