François MORELLET (1926-2016)

Self-taught, François Morellet (born 1926) was a pioneer of minimalism and a master of abstract art. It all started in the 1950s with simple shapes, flat colours, systems of juxtapositions, superimpositions and fragmentations. The artist settled on a pared-down geometry that he continued to enrich over 60 years, playing with lines, frames, angles, shapes, colour and light. Every one of his works is the fruit of an equation or some form of numerical or geometric system.

The title of each works indicates the formula used: 3 grillages superposés 0°, +15° et -15° (1959) (3 superimposed grids 0°, + 15° and -15°). It depicts the superposition of three grids inclined respectively at 0°, + 15 ° and -15° to produce the visual dynamic of the painting. Highly organized, the work also introduces the notion of chance. Morellet not only borrowed from Mondrian, he liked the colourfulness of Picabia. Morellet’s work is an uncanny mix or order and disorder, and ironic – almost impossible – juxtapositions.

François Morellet’s work has been shown in several hundred solo exhibitions around the world. In 2010, he was the second Contemporary artist invited to create a permanent work at the Louvre Museum (L’Esprit d’escalier, Richelieu wing). This ‘consecration’ by the Louvre was accompanied by an auction consecration when one of his works fetching over $500,000 in 2010 (2 trames de tirets 0° 90°). He died in 2016 at the age of 90.

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The great François MORELLET died on 10 May. We take a look back at the career of an outstanding figure of Geometrical Abstract art and an artist who inspired many of Minimalism’s seminal ideas.

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