Flash News: Lehanneur – Morellet – Giacometti

[16 Feb 2018]

50 shades of blue at Christie’s

The Inuit have 50 words for snow, I have chosen 50 shades to represent the sea.” Passionate about science, nature and technology, the designer Mathieu LEHANNEUR created the exhibition 50 Seas that was held at Christie’s in Paris from 18 January to 2 February 2018: 50 shades of blue from all around the world in the form of fifty ceramic discs, like samples of the colour blue, from the Gulf of Guinea to the Hudson Bay, from the Bay of Bengal to the Weddel Sea. Like portholes, the artworks were exhibited at eye level in a long line on the white walls of the auction house, giving the visitor the opportunity to travel around the planet. The waves were reproduced by computer graphics and once the right shape had been found Lehanneur had to choose the right colours. Selected from satellite imagery, each of the fifty marine environments provided a unique shade of blue, accurately recreated through the delicate nuances of enamel. This long process took place by hand in Switzerland – a landlocked country – involving many tests in a kiln. Because, if technology is key in Mathieu Lehanneur’s work, who won the Taking Talent to the Top award in 2010, the artist highlights the major role played by the senses in his creations, first and foremost touch and sight. This is not the first time that Lehanneur has tried to transform liquid into a solid element. With his Liquid Marble series, he created surreal marble sculptures evoking the undulations of the sea.

The frozen sea effect was striking, both outdoors, in the gardens of Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire in 2016, and in black marble in the Norfolk House Music Room at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. In the Ocean Memories collection, exhibited in September 2017 at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York, the marble and bronze tables and seats were bristling with waves like in a drawing by Hokusai.

Mathieu Lehanneur’s work is rarely put up for public sale and his market is paradoxically much more buoyant in the United States. Let’s hope that the exhibition at the Paris headquarters of a major auction house in Europe will boost the artist’s sales.

Morellet electrifies New York

When you follow the Hudson River to the East, you cannot miss Trames 3 ° – 87 ° – 93 ° – 183 °, an explosion of colour in bright red and royal blue on the prestigious Dia art foundation, located on 22nd Street in Manhattan. This first mural by François MORELLET (1926-2016) was initially undertaken between 1971 and 1976 on the gable walls of buildings doomed for destruction, eventually making way for the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Shown at the Dia in New York until June 2018, the exhibition, rather unimaginatively entitled ‘François Morellet’ offers an overview of the artist’s vast body of work. This chronological exhibition reflects his artistic experiments, starting with his geometric, precise and repetitive canvases from the 1950s, challenging a certain idea of composition that was still entrenched in the post-war years. The works of the 1960s lend themselves to optical and kinetic art, especially the G.R.A.V group (Visual Art Research Group) of which he was one of the founding members, playing on interaction with the viewer. After the dissolution of the group in 1968, Morellet returned to painting, focusing on what was happening outside the canvas, attesting to his ability to constantly reinvent himself. This work prefigures the 1980s, in which his paintings lean towards to a Deconstructivist vision of painting, using external elements and materials such as wood and metal. This was his mixed media period, culminating in his 1990s series. An hour and a half from New York, Dia:Beacon, a former biscuit tin factory, also presents until 2019, among its forest of pillars, the new version of a neon installation created specially for the site, No End Neon, longterm view.

Initiated by Jessica Morgan, director of the Dia Foundation since 2015, and Béatrice Gross, the curator of Cholet-New York at the Kamel Mennour gallery in Paris in July 2017, this retrospective is the first major show dedicated to Morellet in the United States for over thirty years. This exhibition should give this pioneering artist, who died in 2016, the recognition he deserves, as his artistic output is on a par with his American peers Dan Flavin, Ellsworth Kelly, of whom he was a close friend in Paris, or even Sol LeWitt. His estate is now represented by the powerful Lévy Gorvy gallery and the artist’s market, which was until now mainly French and European, should experience a critical and commercial reassessment in the United States.

Alberto Giacometti, Quebec-Paris

One of the largest retrospectives focusing on the great artist Alberto GIACOMETTI (1901-1966) has just opened at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (MNBAQ, from 8 February to 13 May 2018). About 50 paintings, 70 drawings and original plaster sculptures, including several that have never been exhibited before, make up this exceptional exhibition, which reflects 50 years of intense creativity through a total of 160 works. Masterpieces such as the plaster sculpture of the famous Spoon Woman and the Suspended Ball, as well as the bronze Walking Man (1960), one of the most famous sculptures of the 20th century, are part of the selection at MNBAQ. This exhibition is all the more important as some works are being shown to the public for the first time. “This retrospective offers a new vision of Giacometti and showcases lesser known works. It is an opportunity to show his work from a point of view that was impossible a few years ago,” explains Catherine Grenier, curator of the exhibition.

Formerly assistant director at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, Catherine Grenier has been, since 2014, in charge of the Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation, which is behind this major exhibition in Quebec. The Foundation, whose main objective is to promote Alberto Giacometti’s work around the world and engage with new audiences, holds the largest collection of work by the artist. It includes some 5,000 works, of which there are 87 paintings, 112 bronzes, 370 plaster sculptures, thousands of drawings and engravings, many of which are unknown, as well as countless archives and thousands of photographs. But unfortunately, this extraordinary collection, regularly added to with new acquisitions, cannot be seen at the Paris premises of the Giacometti Foundation. Created in 2003 by the artist’s widow, the Parisian institution does not yet have its own exhibition space but that is about to change… A new exhibition space will open in June 2018 in the Follot mansion, near the Cartier Foundation. The Giacometti Institute will host exhibitions dedicated to the artist, while carrying in on its loans policy and the fruitful collaborations the foundation has been committed to for many years with overseas museums.