Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the art dealer Jean Fournier – who died recently – played a significant role in the history and development of French painting. Active in Paris from 1954 to 2006, he was an important bridge-builder between the art worlds of France and the United States, and between successive generations of artists.
Fournier's close links with American artists in France (including Jean-Paul Riopelle, Sam Francis, and Joan Mitchell) and with French artists eager for international dialogue (Simon Hantaï, Jean Degottex…) enabled France to reestablish a prominent position on the international art scene in the post-war years, at a time when Paris found itself increasingly marginalised. Fournier's gallery showcased art from across the Atlantic, where painting had successfully retained its currency in the face of the rise of conceptual art, photography and video.
A loyal defender of his stable of artists, Fournier was always ready to listen to the next generation, and played a central role in the two last great avant-garde movements of our time: the BPMT group (Daniel Buren and Michel Parmentier) and Supports-Surfaces (including Claude Viallat and Pierre Buraglio). From the 1980s onwards, he was a tireless supporter of rising young artists (Bernard Piffaretti, Stéphane Bordarier), promoting partnerships and dialogue between them and the established masters of the day.
The Musée Fabre's tribute to Jean Fournier is the fruit of several years of planning and preparation, in collaboration with the Fournier Gallery. The exhibition aims to shed new light on post-war French painting, especially the rise of new forms of abstraction, and the dialogue with American art of the period, whose legacy remains a source of fertile inspiration for the contemporary art scene today.