François Morellet (born 1925, Cholet), is a major figure in contemporary art and a friend of MAC VAL ever since its opening. The museum collection includes several of his works (Carrément décroché n°1, 2007, currently features in the new hanging, “L’Effet Vertigo”).
Famous and known around the world (with over 450 solo exhibitions to date), he is taking over the 1,350 square metres of the temporary exhibition room with an in situ project that puts the visitor at the centre of the work.
Since he began making art in the early 1950s, his work has explored the combination of abstraction and humour. This “precisionist punster” as he is nicknamed has produced a radical body of work that combines rigour and humour. From a very early stage he worked to distance any kind of subjectivity or romanticism, those qualities traditionally associated with the artist as demiurge. Setting himself methods and constraints to both apply and subvert, he asserts his freedom by following rules.
Elementary forms (straight lines, squares, circles, triangles etc.), absence of figures, all-over, accented compositions, simple principles (grids, patterns, superimpositions, variations, systems, juxtapositions, fragmentations, integrations etc.), mathematical progressions, analytical breakdowns of the vocabulary of art, stripped-down language, puns and wordplay – such are the elements that impel his search for active neutrality. Square canvases, adhesive tape, neons, natural elements and hi-tech – anything can be used to pursue this programme which plays on randomness, and the infinite power of combinations and chance in the neutrality of materials and anonymity of finish against the patter of an amused conversation with art history.
François Morellet has pulled off the paradox of mixing geometrical abstraction, which is thought austere or, in any case, always rigorous, with the freedom and impertinence of those artists who, since Dada and, before that, the merry band of Les Arts Incohérents, have managed to overturn established norms.
Alfred Pacquement, in François Morellet, Réinstallations, Centre Pompidou, 2011, p. 13.
Following his projects in Lyon and Nantes (“Echappatoire,” from 6 June to 5 August 2007, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, curator: Thierry Raspail; “Ma Musée”, November 2007–February 2008, Musée des Beaux-arts de Nantes, curator: Blandine Chavanne and Alice Fleury), “Seven Corridors” is the title of this new site-specific installation. As is his wont, Morellet imposes the constraints and the system that is applied automatically generates the work’s design. Often the title, in the form of a tautological, self-referential quip, offers a key to the system, which here is used to define seven corridors according to the principle of “random” lines, determined on the basis of the letters from two alphabets randomly laid out around a square.
7 corridors, 14 entrances/exits. Visitors are invited to explore this enlarged painting, this labyrinthine sculpture with sides of nearly 20 metres, thereby activating the work by their own movement.
Frank Lamy, Head of temporary exhibitions at MAC VAL
Morellet, the monstrous offspring of Mondrian and Picabia, has, since 1952, been developing a whole programme of systems as rigorous as they are absurd, using the simplest geometrical figures (straight lines, angles, planes, etc.) in the most diverse materials (canvases, mesh, neons, steel, adhesive, branches, etc.) on all kinds of supports (canvases, walls, statues, architecture, “landscapes”).
François Morellet, “Réduire à une phrase trente-cinq ans de travail,” July 1987, reproduced in François Morellet, Mais comment taire mes commentaires, Ensba, 1999.