Exhibitions


   2 March 2021 - 21 November 2021

Calder, Soulages, Vasarely…
Abstractions plurielles
1950-1980
Collection de la Fondation Gandur pour l'Art

The years following the Second World War saw a great artistic effervescence. Paris regained its status as cultural capital and once again attracted painters from all over the world. The geometric trend, with its roots in the avant-gardes of the early twentieth century, experienced new developments. At the same time, an emerging generation of artists revolutionized abstract art by transcending gesture and material thanks to new techniques and tools, making it possible to rethink painting and its supports.

Curator : Yan Schubert

Comprising pieces from the collection of the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, rarely presented to the Swiss public, this exhibition takes visitors on an original journey through the vibrant production from the 1950s to the 1980s, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Focusing on the plural forms taken by abstraction during this period, the exhibition shows its main trends: the lyrical and gestural abstraction of Georges Mathieu, Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulages; the Abstract Expressionism of Sam Francis and Adolph Gottlieb; the geometric abstraction of Victor Vasarely and François Morellet, and the minimal paintings of Martin Barré, along with the kinetic sculpture of Jean Tinguely and a monumental mobile of Alexander Calder. As for the Supports/Surfaces movement, which questioned traditional pictorial means, it marked both a conclusion to this period of intense experimentation and the beginning of an evolution that is still ongoing today.

MUSÉE D'ART DE PULLY
Chemin Davel 2, 1009 Pully
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ADMISSION
Free admission under 16 yo
Adults : CHF 10
Students, AVS, AI, unemployed : CHF 8

More details on Musée d'Art de Pully website

OPENING HOURS
Tueday to friday from 2pm to 6pm
Saturday and sunday from 11am to 6pm

Publication
See publication

Press Kit

Press release

Presentation

© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © Hans Hartung / 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

Vehemence

The exhibition Véhémences confrontées presented in March 1951 at the Nina Dausset gallery in Paris, reunited European and North American artists for the first time since the end of the war. It notably brought together works by Hans Hartung, Georges Mathieu, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Jackson Pollock, artists whose thinking was developing along the same lines in the two continents.
The spontaneity of gesture, dynamic force and speed of execution of Mathieu's works contrasted with those of Hartung, who still worked from studies.
This period was also one of experimentation for the Canadian Jean-Paul Riopelle who devised a distinctive technique in which the paintbrush was abandoned in favour of the palette knife, with the artist working the paint in all its thickness.

© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich
© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich © Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation / 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich © Courtesy of Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation © Sam Francis Foundation, California / 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

American Abstraction

After the end of the Second World War, the United States emerged as the new flag bearer of Western culture, with a desire for radical artistic renewal. New York then became a major art centre where American abstract expressionism was born.
Influenced by action painting, Californian artist Ernest Briggs marked broad expressive lines on the canvas. Adolph Gottlieb, for his part, divided the canvas into two distinct spaces: the lower area with black brush strokes on a dark background and the upper part with rounded shapes suspended on a light colour field. Like Gottlieb, Sam Francis attempted to go beyond all-over painting. His large watercolour shows an opening up of space as well as fluid and shimmering colours freely associated with vertical drips.

Geometric Trends

In the 1950s, the tendency for geometric forms was renewed in the compositions of Serge Poliakoff and Francis Bott, who structured their canvases with the aid of layers of matter and of hard-edged colour, as did Ray Parker in the United States. The Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, held in Paris shortly before, was one of the key events in the revival of geometric abstraction. Auguste Herbin attracted attention there for his pictorial vocabulary.
His importance as role model is apparent in the work of Victor Vasarely, whose early research focused on forms, hard edges and flat tints, employing a limited number of colours. This artist then progressed to black and white geometric forms, creating optical illusions in his paintings that heralded kinetic art. This movement, which began with the exhibition Le Mouvement shown at the Denise René gallery in 1955, united the creations, among others, of Jean Tinguely with his motorised artworks and Alexandre Calder, whose mobiles derive their motion from air currents.

© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © Calder Foundation, New York / ProLitteris, Zurich © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich
© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

Graphic Experimentation

The medium of paper offers a wide range of technical possibilities favoured by many post-war artists.
Pierre Soulages began experimenting, for example, with more or less diluted Indian ink, allowing him to work by means of contrast or transparency on the colour of the substrate with the different shades of black. Jean Dubuffet also used Indian ink to paint lighter elements, while at the same time emphasising the horizon through the use of fuller and darker shapes. He also employed stencils to render plant forms visible.
In a different register, César practiced arrachage. Repeatedly tearing off strips of tape from previously inked paper resulted in abstract compositions with no apparent subject, unless it is the material itself. Meanwhile, the work of poet and writer Henri Michaux was of a different nature. He practiced both writing and drawing, under the influence of mescaline, a hallucinogenic drug.

Matterism

In the late 1940s, matter painting established itself as a new trend in Art Informel, or Informalism, that gave free rein to the unforeseen nature of matter and the randomness of the gesture.
Antoni Tàpies is considered one of the most iconic representatives of this movement. He combined oil with sand or marble dust that he then marked, scratched and slashed. Luis Feito and Rafael Canogar employed traditional techniques like oil, but the creation of thick masses for the former and the liberation of the gesture for the latter give their painting an innovative matterist texture. As for Conrad Marca-Relli, he created collages out of canvas segments cut from rolls, then affixed and painted. Inspired by American action painting, Enrico Castellani painted Informalist works in the 1950s, before switching to monochrome painting and becoming one of the transatlantic influences on minimalism.

© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich
© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © Archives Simon Hantaï / 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

New Techniques

Post-war painting was characterised in particular by a freedom found in new techniques, tools and materials, giving rise to an innovative language. While the brush, trowel, spatula and palette knife often replaced the paintbrush, substrates were additionally scratched, scraped, incised, glued or perforated. Gravel, sand, pebbles, leaves and shards of glass also appeared on the artworks.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Simon Hantaï focused on pictorial experimentation. He notably devised a crumpling technique, which was to become an actual method and would influence artists of the Supports/Surfaces group nearly a decade later.
In the 1960s, Hans Hartung, on the other hand, built up an experimental artistic practice with his series of works incorporating scraped lines. He also used new spraying techniques that allowed him to project colour more finely, which he would continue to develop until the end of his life.

Minimal Abstraction (1)

Reacting to the domination of abstract expressionism, certain artists of the second half of the 20th century, in a desire for maximum purity, attempted to pare down the artistic gesture to its most neutral expression possible.
Using aerosol sprays, Martin Barré produced a series of works in which matter is reduced to a minimum and the artist's gesture becomes nearly impersonal. In a similar spirit, American Jules Olitski resorted to aerosol painting a little later to project colour onto his canvases, giving the illusion of a monochrome. For his part, Jean Degottex, in search of a "minimum art", developed a new pictorial language inherited from calligraphy, questioning painting by purifying it and playing with voids.

© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich
© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

Minimal abstraction (2)

In the 1970s and 1980s, some artists attempted to reduce their footprint even further by means of simple geometric shapes and structures.
Among them, Joel Shapiro began using charcoal to create thick, orthogonal lines that suggest a hypothetical construction. François Morellet, meanwhile, traced lines on a homogeneous surface and superimposed wefts that structure his compositions to achieve an absolutely neutral fabrication process.
Martin Barré took his quest for reduction to the extreme in his works from 1984-1985 by resorting to strict minimalist compositions. As for Pol Bury, heavily influenced by Alexander Calder, he moved away from painting, turning instead to mobile, three-dimensional geometric forms.

Supports/Surfaces

The Supports/Surfaces group, active from the mid-1960s to the 1980s, broke with the dominant artistic trends of the time. Founded and theorized by a few French artists, its principal aim was to question the very form of the artwork and the notion of painting.
Colour was then the central focus of all pictorial activities by artists like Vincent Bioulès, who structures his canvas with the aid of two vertical bands in bold tones, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, who explored tonality through the imprint, and Claude Viallat who experiments with the seriality of painting by reproducing the same motif. Some members of the group manipulated the canvas and worked on the various renderings of its folds, such as Marc Devade who returned it to the stretcher or, conversely, André-Pierre Arnal who left it free-hanging. Daniel Dezeuze, on the other hand, questions the notion of the substrate by cutting the canvas to reveal the stretcher.

© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographe : Lucas Olivet © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

Works on loan

Francis BOTT
Composition
1959
Francis BOTT
Composition
1959
Ernest BRIGGS
Untitled
1953
Pol BURY
Composition
1952
Alexander CALDER
[Untitled]
1963
Rafael CANOGAR
Pintura n° 74
1960
Jean DUBUFFET
Terre triomphante
Septembre 1952
Jean DUBUFFET
Terre productrice
Février 1957
Sam FRANCIS
Trace
1956
Simon HANTAÏ
Manteau de la Vierge
1962
Simon HANTAÏ
Sans titre
1963-1964
Hans HARTUNG
T 1962-U49
28 juillet 1962
Hans HARTUNG
T 1964-R8
12 mai 1964
Hans HARTUNG
T 1950-22
1950
Auguste HERBIN
Bien
1952
Conrad MARCA-RELLI
N-M-1-59
8 octobre 1959
Georges MATHIEU
[Sans titre]
1951
Georges MATHIEU
[Sans titre]
1951
Henri MICHAUX
Sans titre
1958
Henri MICHAUX
Sans titre
Vers 1964-1968
Ray PARKER
Ovals
1951
Serge POLIAKOFF
Composition abstraite
1952
Serge POLIAKOFF
Fond noir aux traits
1952
Jean-Paul RIOPELLE
Peinture n° 3
1950
Jean-Paul RIOPELLE
Composition
1950
Victor VASARELY
Altaï-pos
1955-1959
Victor VASARELY
OB – Bleu
1956-1963
Victor VASARELY
R-Cassiopée
1958-1960
Pierre SOULAGES
Peinture 195 x 130 cm, 1er septembre 1957
1er septembre 1957
Pierre SOULAGES
Encre sur papier, 65 x 50 cm, 1955
1955
Antoni TÀPIES
Relief ocre sur rose
1965
Jean TINGUELY
Méta-Herbin
1955
Victor VASARELY
Vegaviv II
1955
Victor VASARELY
Maragnon-R
1957-1961
Victor VASARELY
Ivia
1954-1957
Luis FEITO
Sin titulo [Sans titre]
1957
Adolph GOTTLIEB
Cave
1952
Hans HARTUNG
T 1951-4
1951
Gérard SCHNEIDER
Opus 45 B
Avril 1952
Henri MICHAUX
Sans titre
1962
Daniel DEZEUZE
Triangulation verte
1975
Marc DEVADE
Sans titre
1976
André-Pierre ARNAL
Pliage et bombage
1971
François MORELLET
3 doubles trames 0° 30° 60°
1971
André VALENSI
Peinture
1973
Marc DEVADE
Sans titre
Février 1978
Vincent BIOULÈS
Peinture
Novembre 1970
Enrico CASTELLANI
Sans titre
Septembre 1958
Jean-Pierre PINCEMIN
Empreintes
1968-1969
François MORELLET
2 trames de grillage -4° +4° (# 19 mm)
1972
Claude VIALLAT
1970/048
1970
Jean DEGOTTEX
Horsphère 30
30 mars 1967
Hans HARTUNG
T1987-H3, T1987-H4
10 mars 1987
François FIEDLER
[Sans titre]
1959
François MORELLET
Œuvre unique et pas chère 1 (6)
1970
François MORELLET
Sans titre
1970
François MORELLET
Œuvre unique et pas chère 1ter
1970
Martin BARRÉ
65-S-9-80x74
1965
CÉSAR
Arrachage
1962
Daniel DEZEUZE
Toile ajourée
1967
Patrick SAYTOUR
Tension
1970
Martin BARRÉ
84-85-84×168-B
1984-1985
Simon HANTAÏ
Peinture
1959
Jules OLITSKI
Larro Two
1972
Jules OLITSKI
Broom Vision 2
1980
Pol BURY
Mélangeur
1970
Pol BURY
Mélangeur
1970
Pol BURY
Mélangeur
1970
Pol BURY
Mélangeur
1970
Martin BARRÉ
Sans titre
1964
Joel SHAPIRO
Untitled
1977
Martin BARRÉ
Sans titre
1964
Martin BARRÉ
Sans titre
1964
Martin BARRÉ
Sans titre
1964