Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Fautrier at Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris

When John and I arrived in Paris last April we were lucky enough to see a retrospective, Matter and Light, of the work of French painter Jean Fautrier (1898-1964). We had been unaware of Mr Fautrier's art and career but after this large exhibition we understood the reason for his European fame.
The early work is realistic and even a bit surrealistic as in Sunday Stroll in the Tyrol, 1921-1922,
and the Portrait of My Concierge, 1922. I believe Fautrier would have been in his early twenties when we painted these.
Later in his twenties he began to experiment with a looser painting style. Portrait de Marcel Castel (L'Hercule), ca 1925
and Head of a Woman in a Bordello, ca 1923
Then his work became more abstract with a new series of landscape paintings. Glacier 1, ca 1926, is typical.
Always changing his approach he began his "black period" (Still Life of Pears, ca 1927). Fautrier liked the paintings of Jean-Baptiste Chardin and I think these still lives reveal a similar love for the mystery and elegance of the everyday things of life.
Trout in a Carton, ca 1928
The Herring, 1926
 I love this plaster sculpture, Mask of a Young Girl, 1928; it shares the hazy, indefinite look of  Fautrier's portraits of the same period.
Female Head, ca 1928
Head in Profile, ca 1927
His landscapes of the period are similarly moving toward abstraction -- Study of a Landscape of Hell, 1928
Forest, ca 1928
In 1928 Fautrier was asked to create lithographs to illustrate Dante's Inferno for Editions Gallimard. The images were too abstract for the publisher's taste and the project was cancelled but the proofs are still here to appreciate.
 Study for Dante's Inferno. I love these elegant shapes with the artist's instruction for the printer on the side.
Too bad they were never printed.
In the 1940s Mr Fautrier returned to portraits of simple objects but even more abstracted. The Tin Boxes, 1947
The Inkwell, 1948
The work of the 1950s looks very contemporary -- delightful abstractions that are still related to the seen world. Landscape, 1955
Green Trees, 1958. This show was an education for us. We see why Jean Fautrier found admirers amongst collectors and fellow artists throughout his career.
We'll end with a charming photo of Jean in his youth
 and in his maturity hard at work.

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