André-Pierre Arnal, Simon Hantaï, Bernard Pagès, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, Patrick Saytour, Claude Viallat


While the minimalist tendency in abstract art sought to reduce the presence of the artist as far as possible, the group Supports/Surfaces questioned painting and its processes, deconstructing even the notion of the painting.

In the case of Daniel Dezeuze, whose thinking on painting was “combined with an admiration for the work of the American minimalists”, cutting the canvas represented a desire to break from the “screen-surface” of the painting as early as 1967 and to “confront real space”, allowing the stretcher to appear. Claude Viallat, meanwhile, preferred to reproduce the same motif on the canvas, sometimes playing with chance. Now and then his experiments went further, allowing the rain to modify his mark-making or burning his unstretched canvases, incorporating the notion of the ephemeral into his work. Like Viallat, other artists in the group did not hesitate to separate the canvas from its stretcher to fold or crease it. In his Froissages and Pliages, for example, André-Pierre Arnal unites both form and colour by crumpling the canvas and impregnating it with paint. This technique is reminiscent of Simon Hantaï, whose pioneering work was a major inspiration for Arnal and the artists of the Supports/Surfaces group. In his series Études and Panses, Hantaï also crumpled the canvas and saturated it with colour, leaving free rein to chance in the resulting composition. However, unlike Arnal, Hantaï then smoothed out and re-stretched the canvas. Meanwhile, Marc Devade and Noël Dolla worked with the effects of ink and oil on canvas, which they folded and then also re-stretched. Vincent Bioulès questioned the colours and materiality of the canvas: with Peinture, the artist presented half of the surface unbleached, questioning the raw material as a piece of art. In a different register, Bernard Pagès and Patrick Saytour preferred the use of salvaged materials. While the former mixed manufactured objects and natural elements, playing with the opposition between materials and forms – as in his Arrangements – the latter questioned the fragility of the raw materials with Tension, in which the string is the only element holding the fine wooden structure together, giving the work its name. Lastly, other artists from the group, like Jean-Pierre Pincemin used pieces of canvas or fabric, which they assembled with sewing.

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
184 pages

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