Known for his kaleidoscopic abstract works, Simon Hantaï (1922–2008) originated the technique of pliage (folding), in which a canvas is crumpled and knotted, uniformly painted over, and then spread out to reveal a matrix of alternations between pigment and ground. Born in Bia, Hungary, Hantaï studied at the Budapest School of Fine Arts from 1941 to 1946. In 1948 he moved to Paris after receiving a government grant to study there; after his grant was later revoked in the wake of the escalating Sovietization of his homeland, he decided to stay. In Paris, he met André Breton in December 1952 and quickly became associated with the Parisian Surrealists, completing several fantastical animal-themed paintings before encountering the work of Jackson Pollock and breaking with the Surrealist ideologies in 1955. Pollock’s action paintings and the work of the Abstract Expressionists directly inspired Hantaï’s own turn toward monumentally scaled abstraction.
Hantaï began creating pliage paintings in 1960, conceiving of the process as a marriage between Surrealist automatism and the allover gestures of Abstract Expressionism. The technique dominated the work he made during the rest of his career, re-emerging in diverse forms—sometimes as a network of crisp creases of unpainted canvas spanning the composition, and at other times as a monochrome mass manifesting in the center of an unprimed canvas. Hantaï left Paris and moved to Meun, France, in 1966, becoming a French citizen that year. He gained increasing recognition in France throughout the 1960s and 1970s, culminating in his selection as the country’s representative at the 1982 Venice Biennale. Months later, however, he withdrew from the public eye and chose not to exhibit new works until 1998, when he ended his self-imposed retreat. In 2008 Hantaï died at his home in Paris, leaving behind a corpus of fractal-like compositions whose surfaces exist in flux between deliberate and arbitrary mark making.
Photo: Édouard Boubat
Estate of Simon Hantaï
Gagosian is pleased to announce the representation of the Estate of Simon Hantaï. Born in Bia, Hungary, in 1922, Hantaï is best known for originating the technique of pliage (folding), in which a canvas is crumpled and knotted, uniformly painted over, and then spread out to reveal a matrix of abstract alternations between pigment and ground. Hantaï moved to Paris in 1948 and began creating pliage paintings in 1960, conceiving of the process as a marriage between Surrealist automatism and the allover gestures of Abstract Expressionism. The technique dominated the work he made during the rest of his career, re-emerging in diverse forms. To inaugurate Hantaï’s representation, LES NOIRS DU BLANC, LES BLANCS DU NOIR, an exhibition of black-and-white paintings and prints dating between 1969 and 1997, will be presented at Gagosian, Le Bourget.
Simon Hantaï in his studio, Meun, France, 1967. Artwork © Archives Simon Hantaï/ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Édouard Boubat
Simon Hantaï in
Pattern, Crime & Decoration
Through October 20, 2019
Consortium Museum, Dijon, France
Pattern, Crime & Decoration explores the groundbreaking, artist-led American art movement Pattern & Decoration, which started in the mid-1970s and lasted until the mid-1980s. Strongly grounded in feminism, it included many women artists and sought to highlight arts and crafts, which were often dismissed as belonging to the domestic or decorative sphere. In this exhibition artists from the Pattern & Decoration movement are presented alongside American and European artists from the same era whose work shares similar formal concerns including Simon Hantaï.
Art & Industrie
Through January 5, 2020
Frac Grand Large—Hauts-de-France, Dunkerque, France
This exhibition features large-scale installations, in situ works, sculptures, paintings, films, and performances that embody encounters between artists, engineers, designers, and architects. Tatiana Trouvé’s Desire Lines, commissioned by Public Art Fund and presented in New York’s Central Park in 2015, is included, as is work by Simon Hantaï.
Tatiana Trouvé, Desire Lines, 2015 © Tatiana Trouvé. Photo: Aurélien Mole