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Claude Viallat

A co-founder of the French art collective Supports/Surfaces in 1970/71, Claude Viallat (b.1936, Nîmes) is one of the most renowned representatives and a major figure within the history of French art of the post-war decades. His approach to art is deconstructive, revealing the processes applied to the various material elements that make up a work. Taking inspiration from the paper cut-outs by Henri Matisse, and the work of Simon Hantaï, Viallat is also influenced by the discovery of post-war American artists such as Mark Rothko and Morris Louis. In 1966 he invented a pictorial form that he made his own. Following the same principle as sponge printing, he cuts a sheet of foam into a form vaguely suggestive of a painter’s palette and dips it in paint before applying it to an unstretched and unprimed canvas. The application of this motif replaces the subjective writing of the painter with a neutral sign that makes reference to the act of painting itself. It is an approach that has allowed Viallat to experiment with different techniques on multiple supports.

A large-format, symmetrically arranged triptych, 1976/053 (1976) consists of two side panels painted with blue and red and a central panel painted with yellow. Across these surfaces, the artist has applied the very regular, motif that is emblematic in his work. The work is based around a chromatic structure of three primary colours. The details of its production remain visible in both the cutting of the pieces of fabric and the way in which the paint has been applied. The year 1976, in which this work was created, saw a profound change in the artist’s working method. It brought to a close what Bernard Ceysson called the ‘rotten period’ during which Viallat worked with unstable pigments on all kinds of time-worn mediums. After this date, as Ceysson points out, paint replaces the use of dyes: Viallat uses stencils to apply the motif and brushes to deal with the background and/or the form. Since then, it is the spatial configuration of the piece rather than the material used that has been determining element in Viallat’s work.

Artworks

  1. Claude Viallat, ‘1968/PP010’, 1968. Acrylique sur papier. 70 x 102 cm. Collection Mudam Luxembourg. Donation 2022 – L'artiste et la galerie Ceysson & Bénétière © Photo : Courtesy of galerie Ceysson & Bénétière
    Claude Viallat 1968/PP010, 1968

    Acrylique sur papier
    70 x 102 cm
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Donation 2022 – L'artiste et la galerie Ceysson & Bénétière
    © Photo : Courtesy of galerie Ceysson & Bénétière

  1. Claude Viallat, "1976/053", 1976. Acrylique sur toile. 340 x 600 cm. Collection Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean. Acquisition 2022 © Photo : Courtesy of galerie Ceysson & Bénétière
    Claude Viallat 1976/053, 1976

    Acrylique sur toile
    340 x 600 cm
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Acquisition 2022
    © Photo : Courtesy of galerie Ceysson & Bénétière

  1. Claude Viallat, "2022/096", 2022. Acrylique sur tente marabout. 183 x 105 x 105 cm. Collection Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean. Donation 2022 – L'artiste et la galerie Ceysson & Bénétière © Photo : Courtesy of galerie Ceysson & Bénétière
    Claude Viallat 2022/096, 2022

    Acrylique sur tente marabout
    183 x 105 x 105 cm
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Donation 2022 – L'artiste et la galerie Ceysson & Bénétière
    © Photo : Courtesy of galerie Ceysson & Bénétière

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