In an age marked by the proliferation of new image-making technologies, the persistence of painting as a mainstream art form was far from guaranteed. This section of the museum demonstrates how, through the work of some of the greatest masters of the age, the medium has retained its accuracy, and strengthened its role as a bridge between the successive styles and movements of the history of art, across the centuries. The work of Pierre Soulages, born in 1919, attracted a wide international following in the 1950s for its extraordinary rigour, its extreme gestural control, its alliance of matter and light, and its restricted colour palette. The artist's close links to the Musée Fabre culminated in 2005 with the exceptional gift of 20 canvases representing Soulages work from 1952 to the present. Simon Hantaï, a Hungarian painter born in 1922 and settled in France since 1948, brought a decisive theoretical approach to abstract painting in the 1960s, advocating the practice of "blind" painting, based on the tenets of Surrealism. His folding technique transforms the painted surface into a quite new material, opening the way for further practical innovations and new approaches. The Supports / Surfaces group (Viallat, Bioulès, Cane, Dezeuze) took up the cause in 1969-1972, pushing the exploration of the role and function of every constituent part of a painting to its farthest limits: the plastic qualities of the stretcher and canvas, paint, colour, and other materials such as rope are explored in systematic depth.
The reaffirmation of painting in contemporary art