La Libération de la peinture, 1945-1962

This book invites the reader to discover the exhibition, La Libération de la peinture, 1945-1962 at the Mémorial de Caen (France). Through a selection of seventy-five works taken from its collection, the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, in collaboration with the Mémorial de Caen, invites visitors to discover how the traumas of the Second World War had a long-term effect on the course of art, leading many European artists to invent a new pictorial language, capable of expressing the personal and social torments of their generation. This major exhibition is curated by the Foundation’s curatorial team, who are also responsible for this richly illustrated accompanying catalogue.
scientificS contributionS by bertrand Dumas and Yan Schubert

The Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, in association with the Mémorial de Caen, present an ambitious exhibition dedicated to abstract painting in Europe between 1945 and 1962. During the period between the return of peace in Europe and the end of the Algerian War, art in France underwent a number of profound upheavals. As the country struggled to recover from the war, artistic life awakened after four years of Occupation. After the Liberation, Paris quickly regained its status as the world capital of art, which it had held prior to the war. The City of Light attracted artists from all around the world.

The selection of 75 paintings, drawings and sculptures, all from the collection of the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, intends to provide an overview of the artistic vitality of this era, while showing how the war, with its share of atrocities, had a lasting influence on the course of art. Faced with the difficulty, even the inability for some, to continue to represent the world using the traditional means of painting, artists had no other alternative than to create new forms of expression that were more spontaneous and intuitive, finding a fertile ground in abstract art. To achieve this, they also made use of an entire range of new tools and materials, diverted from their primary function.

The confrontation that developed, in 1945, between the perpetuators of geometric abstraction inherited from Piet Mondrian and Kasimir Malevitch on the one hand, and the young generation of abstract painters ready to experiment with all of the possibilities of Art Informel on the other, was the sign of new and changing times. The painting collection of the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, which was originally built around this non-geometric trend in abstract art, illustrates its diversity with several prominent works. Each in their own way, they bear witness to the crisis of representation that raged after the war and affected artists seeking, whether consciously or unconsciously, to paint the reality of their time without necessarily resorting to figuration.