Max Bill was one of the most avid proponents of the “principle of order” and sought to align almost all of his designs within what he termed “mathematical thinking,” which he considered the basis of human experience. His marble sculpture 22 (1953) represents the very embodiment of “concrete art,” which dismisses all external dependence upon natural phenomena in favor of an art that emanates directly from the mind of the artist. The twenty-two holes that spiral outward on the vertical plane of the sculpture (and from which the title 22 derives) are not simply an exercise in gradual accumulation, but also a variation on the famous Fibonacci spiral, which follows the corresponding integer sequence, and the basis of which is the form of the so-called golden spiral.
There is a parallel between the sculpture’s precarious intersection of two 90-degree planes and Bill’s later architectural designs, particularly the Hochschule für Gestaltung (School of Design) in Ulm, as well as the Wohn- und Atelierhaus (Residence and Studio) that he designed in Zumikon, on the outskirts of Zurich. Like 22, the grace of these structures is derived from the simplicity and harmony of lines and surfaces, of similarly intersecting right-angled planes that address the relationship between base and structure.