MAC/VAL is opened every day of the week, except on mondays:
tuesday to friday, 10 h to 18 h
week-ends and holidays, 12 h to 19 h.

Closed on january 1st, may 1st and december 25th.

phone: 01 43 91 64 20
fax: 01 79 86 16 57

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Place de la Libération
94400 Vitry-sur-Seine


François Morellet


François Morellet is the artist of
paradoxes. A man with a clearly serious
life (he ran the family business in Cholet
until 1975), he has been a life-long
artist. The pioneer in France of geometric
abstraction, he is forever challenging his
own principles. As an artist he derides
inspiration and champions the viewer’s
role. In the 1950s, his painting called
into question arbitrary choices and
artistic expertise; from that point on he
subjected the creative act to the definition
of a system, announced in the title: the
rules of play (because play is what is
involved) were established.
This system, which forms the basis for the
creation of his works, leaves plenty of
room for chance, something that became an
actual component of his work in 1958. That
same year, he began using light as a
material to be imprinted on the viewer’s
eye. He was already placing the latter in a
position of responsibility, giving him/her
the task of making the work appear, be it
in Reflets dans l’eau déformés par le
spectateur [Reflections in Water Distorted
by the Spectator] (1964) or, two years
later, 56 lampes avec programmation
aléatoire-poétique-géométrique, ingenuously
renamed by the museum staff as ‘NON,
A constellation of light bulbs appears
in random fashion, subject to haphazard
programming. The game was to bring forth
words based on geometric shapes – rude
words at times, too!
Wordplay is a key part of François
Morellet’s work. A vibrant heir to the
spirit of Dada, he cultivated this way
of seeing and deriding the world. Because
of his fierce wit, he kept his distance from
art, but also, as in this impudent piece,
from the world. He hides, here getting
the public to launch those ‘coarse and
derogatory interjections’ (Arnauld Pierre)
by stepping on the pedal.
The installation of this work for the
opening of the museum remains etched in
people’s memories. Those involved chuckled
at the thought of the official visits and
the surprise that would register on
visitors’ faces. This typified the strength
of GRAV:1 ‘We want to interest the
spectator, free him from his inhibitions,
relax him.’
With this work, François Morellet, inventor
of forms and words, provokes amusement,
but at times also embarrassment on the part
of the viewer, who is responsible for the
appearance of these cheeky messages –
insolence being one of the irremediable
hallmarks of their dreadful inventor.


1. Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel,
created in 1960, of which Morellet was
a founder member.