Impressed by the effect of Fautrier’s work, Jean Dubuffet invented his own pictorial language, based on cheap materials that gave life to sculptures made of clinker such as Savonarole and landscapes made with dead leaves. Antoni Tàpies combined oil with sand and marble dust to add body to his work, which he then scratched, cut or lacerated to create a “poetics of matter”.
The Frenchman Georges Noël shared an interest in sand with his matterist colleagues, combining it with glue and pigments to create unique material effects. On this coarse, grainy surface, which he worked to make it more or less smooth and regular, he added his own vocabulary of primitive symbols. Despite the rough shaping of his “squashed, torn or beaten matter paintings”, Léon Zack did not give up on oil paint, which he worked in a new way. “This stirred, kneaded, flagellated material, spread with a knife or a cloth, roughly ripped or stroked by a brush […]” lay at the heart of his research.
When he first began wrapping objects, Christo was still interested in the materiality of paint, creating mixtures of oil, chalk, pigments and soil at the end of the 1950s, in parallel with the development of his Surfaces d’empaquetage and his Cratères. From these earthy textures emerge dream-like landscapes, similar to those of Dubuffet. Arman, who signed the manifesto of the New Realists in October 1960, before Christo joined sometime later, also still produced abstract works that play more on the projection of matter than his large works on paper mounted on canvas created a little earlier, which retain traces of the object.
Other artists, meanwhile, questioned the relationship between materiality and the canvas itself. This was the case for the American Conrad Marca-Relli, who cut out shapes from rolls of canvas before gluing and painting them for his “collage painting”, a technique that would be picked up by the members of the Supports/Surfaces group.
Fondation Gandur pour l'Art collection
For more information: a catalog was published on the occasion of the exhibition At the heart of abstraction. Fondation Gandur pour l’Art collection
Editor: Fondation Maeght
Prefaces: Adrien Maeght and Jean Claude Gandur
Texts: Yan Schubert and Lucie Pfeiffer
Reproduction of all exhibited works