Josee Bienvenu is pleased to announce Preliminaries, an exhibition of works by Francois Morellet organized in collaboration with Galerie Herve Bize. This will be the first one-person exhibition in New York by this major French artist since 1997. The exhibition will focus on a lesser known but essential aspect of the artist's work: his drawings. While Morellet and his systematic approach to art making is renown internationally through numerous exhibitions, publications and articles, his works on paper have been rarely exhibited. The exhibition brings together key works on paper from the 1950s to 2000, presenting an ensemble of exceptional quality for the first time in the United States.
Far from being hermetic, Francois Morellet's work, where language and a form of irony surface constantly, is often characterized by the oxymoron: "un rigoureux rigolard". Since the early 1950s, Morellet took part in the international avant-garde by conceiving a form of geometric abstraction shaped by systems that reduced the artist’s subjectivity to a minimum. A specific system determines each work and its execution; therefore drawing is essential to Morellet's work. It is a unique process that allows him to articulate his intentions. Through drawing, Morellet anticipates and sets up what will be experimented on another scale with other materials in the rest of his work.
Morellet’s work fits alongside the Incoherents art movement, the work of Alphonse Allais, Francis Picabia, and of course, Marcel Duchamp. Other influences include the work of Swiss artist Max Bill, Jean Arp’s and Sophie Tauerber-Arp’s duo-collages, tapa cloths from Oceania, Hispano-Moresque art from Granada, as well as a strong influence from his father accounting for his predilection for language games and acute sense of humor.
Francois Morellet’s drawings could be considered very discreet works – because of their modest scale and also for the parsimonious choice of processes and techniques. However, this absolute economy of means does not affect the impact of the work, on the contrary, it shows that a drawing contains everything and stands as its own entity. In the 1950-1960’s most of Morellet’s drawings were preparatory works for paintings and other projects, whether executed or not, but they cannot be considered as studies only. They function as autonomous works and lay the foundation for the drawings of the 1970s - 1990s, primarily engaged with the concept of pictorial space as a structure. Francois Morellet was very forward thinking throughout his life, even one of the first artists to use neon light, and continued to experiment with new materials.
Francois Morellet was born in 1926 in Cholet, France. Selected recent exhibitions include: François Morellet, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; François Morellet 5*3, Le Box, Marseille; Dynamo, Grand Palais, Paris; Dynamo, Grand Palais, Paris, Light show, Hayward Gallery, London (2013); Ghosts in the Machine, New Museum, New York, Neon - Who’s afraid of red, yellow and blue?, La Maison Rouge, Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris (2012); François Morellet, Réinstallations, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011); François Morellet. Mes images, Musée d'art ancien et contemporain, Epinal, François Morellet, 9 + 1, Installationen, Museum Pfalzgalerie, Kaiserslautern, L'esprit d'escalier, commande du Musée du Louvre, Paris (2010); François Morellet chez Le Corbusier, Couvent de la Tourette, Eveux, La quadrature du carré, une introspective, Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch (2009); François Morellet, raison et dérision, Museum Würth, Erstein, François Morellet, 45 années lumière, Château de Villeneuve, Vence (2008); François Morellet, Ma Musée, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, Blow up, 1952-2007, Quand j'étais petit je ne faisais pas grand, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2007); François Morellet, Démonétisations, Musée d'Orsay, Paris (2006); Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form, 1940s-70s, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA (2004).
His work is featured in numerous major public and private collections, including: Tate Gallery, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; LACMA, Los Angeles; MoMA, New York; Guggenheim Museum, Abu Dhabi; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington; Kunstmuseum, Bern; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv; Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebaek. Several retrospectives were devoted to his work, notably in 1985 at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, and in 1986 and 2011 at the Pompidou Center, Paris. Francois Morellet realized many public commissions throughout his career and was one of the very rare contemporary artists invited to create a permanent installation for the Musee du Louvre, Paris.
*ART² is An International Platform on Contemporary Art, presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. in collaboration with the New York presenters Institut français, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and FACE (French American Cultural Exchange).
*Herve Bize has been working closely with Francois Morellet for more than 25 years. This project is a first collaboration between the two galleries.