Morellet began making abstract work in the 1950s. Together with Sérgio Camargo, Jesús Rafael Soto, and Julio Le Parc, Morellet founded the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (Visual art research group), which experimented with collective authorship and with art based on kinetic and optical experiments. In their application of science and technology, the group created new types of optical experience. Morellet based his compositions on the rules of geometry and mathematical progressions, but also allowed chance operations to enter into the decisionmaking process.
One of a series of retrospectives the Centre Pompidou is dedicating to major figures in contemporary art, Réinstallations proposes a new look at the work of François Morellet, for the first time emphasizing the installation that has been an original and pioneering aspect of it.
Favouring geometrical forms and aleatory procedures, Morellet has over the last sixty years developed a major body of work in constructive abstraction. A founder member in 1960 of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV), he has since then worked in many different forms, from painting on canvas to the urban and architectural projects he calls “disintegrations”. The grid, the systematic development, the irony of the titles, the appeal to chance within codified constraints : these are central features of his work.
In collaboration with exhibition curators Alfred Pacquement and Serge Lemoine, the artist has selected some 25 works of varying scale that retrace the key inflections in his artistic development from 1963 to the present. All different, and of different materials — neon tubes, projected light, pieces of wood, silk-screened paper, adhesive tape on walls, stretched canvas, aluminium bars, metal sheet — they are all arranged in space, that is to say, installed.
These works were produced for different occasions and tailored to the site and circumstances of the intervention. Here they have been “reinstalled” in Galerie 2, on Level 6 of the Centre Pompidou, to create a diverse exhibition full of contrast and surprise, as capable of provoking visual shock as it is of affording pleasure by elegance of concept and beauty of effect.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue whose wealth of essays looks at Morellet’s installations over more than half a century, situating them in relation to the practice of installation that has become a common feature of the work of many later artists.
François Morellet, No End Neon, 1990
François Morellet, Pi rococo n°22, 1=10, 1997-2008
François MelleFrançois Morellet, 2 trames de tirets, 1971
Blain|Southern is delighted to present DASH DASH DASH,an exhibition of new and historic works by the acclaimed French artist François Morellet. The artist has created two monumental site specific installations for the gallery’s vast 9,20 metres high and 39 metres long space in Berlin. Shortly following his 89th birthday, the exhibition is the first major display of Morellet’s work in Berlin since his 1977 solo show at the Neue Nationalgalerie, and will be held during the city’s Gallery Weekend.
In an unlikely pairing, Morellet manages to combine humour and playfulness with strict mathematical systems, making work which is whimsically titled, aesthetically uplifting and conceptually rich. He has worked with geometric forms throughout his long career and although he has employed a variety of media and techniques his interest in grids and planes remains constant.
The centerpiece of this exhibition, the new site-specific 3D Bandes décimées (2015) and 3D concertant (2015) are characteristic examples. These two large-scale vinyl installations cover opposing walls in the gallery’s groundfloor space. On one wall the artist has created a repeated sequence of overlapping vertical and diagonal lines; on the other wall these are repeated in negative form, creating origami-like shapes. Morellet plays with our visual expectations; planes and lines are tilted, symmetry is disrupted and geometry is altered. The result, as with much of Morellet’s work, is playful, beautiful and challenging, inviting the observer to engage intellectually as well as aesthetically.
Mounted on the outside wall of the upper exhibition space, is π Weeping Neonly (2014), an iconic Morellet work in neon. Comprised of 42 white neon lights, the work is arranged in a pattern that was determined by using the number π. The neon tubes are connected to each other by electric cables and joined to power transformers. The visibility of cables and transformers, and material in general, is an integral part of all of his works.
The upper space has been divided into two rooms, the first housing a suite of monochrome paintings. These works are produced with the same system as the large scale installation downstairs as the titles reveal accordingly, 3D concertant. The system used for the site-specific installation is evident throughout the whole exhibition. The second room contains a series of ‘neon paintings’ set against painted square canvases. They are arranged according to the lines and stripes of the monochrome paintings in the first room. Since 2005, Morellet has produced the series Strip-teasing in which the artist explores his interest in the ratios of lines. Lines can adopt different appearances depending on the medium in which they are executed: pencil, stripes, neon tubes or the demarcation line created by different colored surfaces. In Strip-teasing sur la pointe trames 75°-165°, 100°-190° (2006) the lines are painted as thick black stripes on one side and on the other in fine thin lines. While the thick stripes fill the most part of the canvas, the thin lines appear almost dematerialized. In 4 à 4 bleu toile brute (2012), the four neon tubes are fragments of two squares of the exact same size as the raw canvas on which they are set. Although the arrangement of the neon tubes appears random, the artist used a grid and the number πas a guideline for the composition.
After having juxtaposed his works with drawings by Kazimir Malevitch in 2011, François Morellet returns to occupy both of the galerie kamel mennour’s spaces in the spring of 2014. Devilishly mischievous, the exhibition’s title, “François Morellet, c’est n’importe quoi ? ”, questions us and alerts us to the touch of mischief that animates the artist’s now well-known minimalist vocabulary of white monochromes, black lines, and neon lights all arranged under the auspices of mathematics. This neatly ordered world is actually subject to a generalized tremor of sorts, a kind of earthquake of saving grace. In the series Triptyque (2014) and Carrément bricolé (2013), the diverse elements of the work give the impression of being broken apart by vibrations. This is the case, too, in La Débâcle (2013), where a large black line divides the painting like a Newmanian zip, almost recalling the sharp edges of Caspar David Friedrich’s The Sea of Ice. As for the concentric circles of Cruibes (2013-14), they might be the materialization of this shockwave that turns the exhibition upside- down and extends far beyond the Rue Saint André des Arts. Indeed, at the Rue du Pont de Lodi, we step out onto a wooden footbridge specially designed by Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata. This jetty allows us to venture out over an ocean of neon lights whose blinking creates a luminous swell. The undulations of light created by this work, initially designed in 2001 for the Zentrum für Internationale Lichtkunst in Unna (Germany), bring the space to reel and sway in a vibrant tribute to Piet Mondrian’s series of paintings entitled Pier and Ocean(1915). Finally, an exceptional collection of works from 1949 will be on display at the space on Rue Saint-André des Arts. Inspired by tribal art, and more specifically by aboriginal art, they were initially shown in 1950 at the Gallery Raymond Creuze, in Paris. Shedding light on its origins, these pieces allow us to appreciate the growth and the eternal, vibrating youth of François Morellet’s work.
François Morellet, c’est n’importe quoi ?, 2014
Devilishly mischievous, the title of this publication, “François Morellet, c’est n’importe quoi ? (Does It Make Any Sense?)”, questions us and alerts us to the touch of mischief that animates the artist’s now well-known minimalist vocabulary of white monochromes, black lines, and neon lights all arranged under the auspices of mathematics. This neatly ordered world is actually subject to a generalized tremor of sorts, a kind of earthquake of saving grace.