France Figurative Arts Part III

France Figurative Arts 3

Also committed to the criticism of a certain social condition, but in a more serene way, the painting of G. Schlosser (born in 1931) is characterized as a chronicle of daily life in France among the working classes, made starting from photographic documents, some details of which are enlarged and shown on canvas, sometimes at the limits of legibility.

With Schlosser we arrive at the most recent currents, presented to the cultural debate in the 1970s, such as photorealism and hyperrealism (even if since 1965 Gasiorowski had made canvases that were already entirely attributable to the latter technique). The 5th Documenta in Kassel was to reveal to the public the work of J.-O. Hucleux (born 1923), painstakingly executed 1: 1 scale paintings on wood with an impressive trompe – l’oeil. Also very close to this is the work of A. Raffrey (born in 1925). More conventional is instead that of P. Klasen (born in 1935), whose cold execution with the airbrush refers to the very coldness of the themes: hospital scenes, armored cars, an impersonal and technical universe. The universe of the Hungarian T. Csernus (born in 1927) is warmer and more humane: Parisian street scenes, captured on a telephoto lens and reproduced on canvas, but then treated with an extremely rich and greasy palette, often with chiaroscuro effects with explicit references to Caravaggio’s realism.

This unexpected attention to the pictorial fact, the need – which we have seen manifested here for the first time – for a realism that escapes the coldness of pure recording and a certain impersonality of manufacture to re-appropriate traditional techniques, are things that are frequently found in the generation. younger. In contrast with the anti-artistic or neo-Dadaist aesthetics of the proponents of the new realism or with the functional technique of those of hyperrealism, one encounters an art that once again abandons itself to the pleasures of the eye and draws on the most classic.

According to Ezinereligion, the influence of Balthus, but also that of Corot and Courbet, characterizes, for example, the work of G. Barthélemy (born in 1940): portraits, landscapes, genre scenes, treated in small formats and with a oily and shiny. Similar classic references – but inspired, this time, above all by the romantic repertoire, in particular by C.-D. Friedrich – are present in the paintings of the young Czech I. Theimer (born in 1944): vast landscapes swept by the wind, with blue distances, treated with varnish in the ancient way. Thus we are witnessing a curious revival of genre painting, of which two other examples should be cited: Gobernatori’s animal painting and nude painting – a nude treated in the mannerist taste of a Pontormo and with Michelangelo’s “terribility” – by the painter of Chilean origin Caballero. This return to “order” and tradition, with a well-marked nostalgia for the old masters and an increasingly freely affirmed taste for the pictorial touch, is also found in some artists who were already exponents of a certain pop or neo-avant-garde. realist. This is the case of S. Buri (born in 1935) who, after his optical plots, devoted himself to the production of pointillist style pastels and watercolors; and M. Raysse with his pastels in homage to C. Monet. he devoted himself to the production of pointillist style pastels and watercolors; and M. Raysse with his pastels in homage to C. Monet. he devoted himself to the production of pointillist style pastels and watercolors; and M. Raysse with his pastels in homage to C. Monet.

The panorama would be incomplete if an astonishing renaissance of drawing were not reported, so rich and complete that many artists have limited their work to this field only.

This is the case of G. Titus-Carmel (born in 1942) who mixes the illusionistic effectiveness of drawing with the use, with the precision of an architect, of the perspective technique, to carry out his apologue on the alterations of matter and on the illusions of the senses; or, again, by W. Gaefgen (born in 1936) whose designs of clothes or worked lands are executed with a hyper-realistic technique of hallucinating effectiveness.

This vogue in drawing has fully brought to light the unrecognized work of a great artist, belonging to an older generation, A. Arikha (born in 1929), an exquisite technician of ink and silver tip. Similarly, it is the pastel technique that is taken up, with exuberance and authority, in the work of S. Szafran (born in 1934); and that of colored pencils in Gérardiaz’s studies of plants and mushrooms (born in 1938). This taste for naturalistic observation is found in the work of V. Jordan-Roman – and it should be noted that in all these young artists there is a renewed and unexpected taste for direct observation of nature. Finally, two exceptionally skilled engravers should be mentioned: C. Fossier (born in 1934) and J. Ortner (born in 1940).

Figurative sculpture, on the other hand, seems to be marking time. Before dying in 1966, A. Giacometti completed his last masterpieces, including the three busts of the filmmaker E. Lotar. César made his Victoire de Villetaneuse in welded bronze in 1965, and then turned to a hyper  realistic sculpture ante litteram, consisting in enlarging the cast of his own thumb (Pouce, 1967) or that of a breast (Sein, id.). J. Iposteguy (born 1920) continues a classical type of work with his Alexandre devant Ecbatane (1965) and his Femme au bain (1966) and, more recently, with a stunning Baroque piece, La Mort du Père.

In the younger generation, on the other hand, there seems to be a notable lack of interest in the figure, with the exception of the aforementioned I. Theimer who engages in the art of portraiture and sculpted landscape.

During the Sixties, even in the field of non-figurative art, with the research of kinetic and technological art and primary structures, there was a stance towards “classical” abstractionism, both geometric and lyrical, which nevertheless continues to arouse lively interest as shown by the great Parisian exhibitions dedicated to Mathieu in 1963, to Soulages in 1967, to Bram van Velde in 1970 and, in the same year, to Poliakoff (who died in 1969), to name but a few. Already in the 1950s, the researches of vasarely, Agam, Soto, Tinguely were advanced in the optical kinetic field (think also of the exhibition held in 1955 at the Denise René gallery with the title Mouvement), however the kinetic current that manifests itself after 1960 imposes itself with specific characteristics, first of all the search for a collective creation, of which the most significant expression is given by GRAV (Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel), founded in 1960. The group, whose main exponents are France Morellet (born in 1926), J. Le Parc (1928; awarded at the Venice Biennale in 1968), H. Garcia-Rossi (1929), France Sobrino (1932), J. Stein (1926) and Yvaral (1934), until its dissolution in 1968 participates in the most important international events with a range of achievements ranging from programmed painting to the creation of environnements. An independent research, but somehow parallel to American minimalist trends, is that of the Support – Surface group (exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris in 1970), which has as its main animators C. Ciallat (born in 1936), L Dog (1934), A. Valensi (1947).

France Figurative Arts 3