Between colour and matter

Exhibitions | History and heritage
entre_couleur_et_matiere par Esprit de France
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From the Manufacture de Sèvre to the Musée d'Art Moderne

Colour research -whether it is a question of chromatic range, colour brilliance and contrast- has always been an integral part of pottery and ceramics, an art of decoration for ceremonial or everyday life objects throughout history. At the Manufacture de Sèvres, a colour laboratory is still in activity since its creation by Louis XV in 1740. Thousands of colours have been created there, including the renowned Louis XV celestial blue and the Pompadour pink but also the green of the dish service for Napoleon 1st. The tour shows visitors how colour styles evolved through time and fashion influences: in partnership with the Centre Pompidou, four hundred works are on show. They allow you to appreciate the different shades of colors and textures, from the matt ceramics to the reflections and opalescences of the translucent surfaces of porcelain. The sensory journey is from start to finish a real success, including a wealth of artists’ signature pieces. It deals with the fundamental question of the treatment of colour by artists who have worked according to traditions that date back to the eighteenth century but who also know how to meet the requirements of modernity. Indeed, source of pleasure, symbol of power, catalyst of memory, the chromatic sensation remains for the artist of today, be it Sonia Delaunay, Yves Klein or Bertrand Lavier, a powerful emotional tool. An excellent exhibition that it would be a shame to miss!


The questioning of matter is quite different concerning painting. The best example is Jean Fautrier’s work, currently on show at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. Relatively little-known to the general public, Jean Fautrier, an artist following a lonely path, began with an expressionist figuration in dark and dramatic tones. In 1934, after abolishing the linear contour of his figures, he began a new research characterized by the thickness of the material crossed by a delicate arabesque of pigment: "This is both rose petal and Camembert slice", a humourous statement by his friend, the poet Francis Ponge. In his famous series of Hostages, Fautrier pursues stunning mixed effects: bold impastos in which the pigments change depending on transparency, overflow and opacity of the matter. He won the International Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale in 1960, and is today recognized as the main forerunner of Informalism also playing a major part in renewing Modern Art after the Cubist period.