‘Les Sujets de l’Abstraction’ (1946 – 1962); 101 masterpieces from the Gandur Foundation for Art, Geneva

7 December 2011 - 24 March 2012

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Exhibition organised jointly with the Gandur Foundation for Art and the museums of Art and History in Geneva.
Scientific commissioner: Éric de Chassey.
Commissioner of the Fabre Museum: Michel Hilaire.

When this collection, previously belonging to the Gandur Foundation for Art, is deposited at the Museum of Art and History in Geneva, ‘Les Sujets de l’Abstraction’ will offer a rediscovery of abstract painting, from the middle of the 1940s to the start of the 1960s in Paris. During this period of intense innovation and revolution, abstract art emerged as a mode of expression which radically transformed the way in which artists related to the world around them.

With more than 60 artists exhibited and 101 paintings from the exceptional collection of the Gandur Foundation for Art, the exhibition reveals extraordinary works from major artists of the period, such as Pierre Soulages, Hans Hartung, Georges Mathieu, and Nicolas de Staël.

From the way the paint is applied to the effects of the material, from the ‘outrenoir’ of Soulages to the colour explosions of Riopelle; this new wave of art which emerged from the Second World War was said to be “lyrical”, thanks in part to the many innovative, enduring approaches and techniques these artists created.

While the political and cultural context echoes the traumas of war, the many artists residing in Paris, and those in connection with them, were united by the need to break with traditional aesthetics and start again from scratch. They formed what was soon to be known as the ‘Second School of Paris’, searching for a radically different way to express how the artist could relate to the world around them. Through their exploration of gesture, colour, and material, they brought into question the traditional definitions of painting and pushed the limits of art.

No collection in itself has previously taken the opportunity to create an overall idea of this major juncture in the history of art. However, the newly founded Gandur Foundation for Art (FGA 2009) is now famed for offering one of the largest collections in Europe to reveal this period.

In March 2010, the Gandur Foundation for Art established an agreement with the city of Geneva, proposing that their collections be deposited at the Geneva Museum of Art and History. The exhibition of the finest pieces of the Gandur collection, firstly at the Rath Museum in Geneva and then at the Fabre Museum in Montpellier, will allow the European public to discover a preview of this remarkable collection. The Fabre Museum will be an ideal setting for this exhibition thanks to the rich collections of post-war abstract paintings already displayed. The group of works offered by the exhibition can only be enriched by their proximity to the collections of exceptional works by Montpellier artist Soulages, and Jean Fournier alike. Meanwhile, the pieces in the exhibition will simultaneously be confronted with works that are their contemporaries, thus complimenting and illuminating this innovative collection.

‘Les Sujets de l’Abstraction’ will allow the public to retrace of the history of abstract painting in Paris, from the middle of the 1940s to the start of the 1960s, through the exhibition of some exquisite works. This fascinating collection is sure to charm even those who are most reluctant to embrace abstract and contemporary art.