Supports/Surfaces developed away from Paris, in the south of France, with the first major exhibition held in 1969 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. In June 1969, during an exhibition at the Havre Museum entitled “La peinture en question”, Vincent Bioulès, Louis Cane, Marc Devade, Daniel Dezeuze, Noël Dolla, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, Patrick Saytour, André Valensi, Bernard Pagès and Claude Viallat write in the catalog: “The subject of the painting is the painting itself and paintings on display refer only to themselves. They make no appeal to an “elsewhere” (the personality of the artist, his biography, history of art, for example). Early exhibtions took place in towns like Coaraze, Montpellier, Nimes and Nice in the mid-1960s. After the student revolts of 1968, the movement ratcheted up its activities, exploding in such exhibitions as “Supports/Surfaces,” which took place at ARC in Paris in September 1970. These shows occurred at or around the same time as those of other French artist groups like GRAV and BMPT (Daniel Buren, Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier and Niele Toroni). Like them, Supports/Surfaces questioned the role of painting as both an art object and a social one.
As its name suggests, Supports/Surfaces was interested in articulating what its artists felt were all too readily ignored aspects of painting: basic concepts like ‘support’ and ‘surface,’ for example, and the presence of painting as a product of individual labor. At the same time, these artists were very much interested in painting and its own peculiar history. Daniel Dezeuze points out that he was looking for a means of “revolting against the art world and the world in general without having to make anti-art.” (Raphael Rubinstein, Polychrome Profusion: Selected Art Criticism: 1990 – 2002.) In fact, those involved with Supports/Surfaces, as Rubinstein also notes, were some of the few French artists of the period to engage directly with American Painting from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field, albeit doing so within the context of their Maoist discourse.
This scarce and visually rich monograph, published in Japan by The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Japanese Association of Art Museums on the occasion of a rare major exhibition that toured Japan in 1993-1994, gives a generous overview of the many works of the artists of Supports/Surfaces from 1966-1974, through colour and black and white photographs. It also provides texts (in Japanese and French), interviews, historical photos of the group and their installations, work list, a chronology, a biography and many essays. One of the few major publications on the work of Supports/Surfaces.
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- Supports/Surfaces (1993)
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Claude Viallat catalogue published only in Japan on the occasion of his parallel solo exhibitions held at Gallery Itsutsuji and Sagacho Exhibit Space, Tokyo, in April-May, 1992, following his systematic abstraction with one shape affixed on canvas without stretchers. Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white with installation shots of each exhibit, plus reproductions of each painting exhibited, along with a biography and further texts (in Japanese).
Claude Viallat is a French artist born in Nîmes who, in 1955, joined the École des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts School) in Montpellier, where he met André-Pierre Arnal, Vincent Bioulès, Daniel Dezeuze, Toni Grand, François Rouan, and Henriette Pous, whom he married in 1962. As soon as 1963, he was attracted to abstraction. He was appointed as a teacher in the École des Arts Décoratifs (Decorative Arts School) of Nice in 1964 and decided to create a new formal language questioning the conventions of classical painting. He then started working systematically with one shape affixed on canvas without stretchers. His first personal exhibition took place at Nice’s Galerie A in 1966. In 1967, he was appointed as a teacher in the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Limoges, where he met Raoul Hausmann. In the late 1960s he was central to the formation of Support/Surfaces, perhaps the most under-recognized French art movement of the twentieth century, Supports/Surfaces emerged amid the intellectual and political upheaval of 1960s France, on the cusp of modernity and postmodernity. Steeped in the philosophy of Derrida, Lacan and Barthes, and inspired in their political militancy by figures such as Marx, Freud and Mao, 15 artists from the South of France converged around a shared ideological and artistic goal: the dismantling and demystifying of the painting as object, both physically and philosophically. Artists such as Louis Cane, Daniel Dezeuze, Bernard Pagès, Patrick Saytour, Claude Viallat, André-Pierre Arnal and Noël Dolla explored the physicality of the painting’s stretchers and canvases, deconstructing it so as to question and reaffirm the medium and its implications.
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- Claude Viallat - Catalogue (1992)
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Vol. VII/8 October 20, 1968
Art International, Vol. VII/8 October 20, 1968
Published and Edited by James Fitzsimmons
Advisory Editors: Umbro Apollonio, R. C. Kenedy, Lucy R. Lippard, James Mellow.
Phillip King, Paul Frazier, “Science-Fiction” (Robert Smithson, Donald Judd, Larry Bell, Lila Batzen, etc.), “Sculpture as Visual Instrument” (Charles Ross, Michael Kirby), “The Vancouver Explosion” (Iain Baxter, Roy Kiyooka, Jim Willer, Reg Holmes, Audrey Chapel Dorey, Michael Morris, etc.), Paul Wunderlich, Milton Avery, Ludwig Sander, John Barryman, Claude Villiat, Lucio Fontana, Matta, Henri Matisse, Saul Steinberg, Rene Magritte, Isamu Noguchi, Les Levine, Martial Raysse, Andy Warhol, Christo, James Dine, Carl Andre, an much more.
Art International was a highly regarded international art journal based in Switzerland from 1957-1984. With international editors and contributing writers, A.I. was issued 10 times per year and was published and edited by James A. Fitzsimmons.
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- Art International, Vol. VII/8 October 20, 1968
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“Edward Lucie-Smith, a critic and historian of art who is deeply immersed in the works and trends of the seventies here provides the first general survey of the decade. In a volume alive with visual images that are often surprising and sometimes disturbing, he analyzes the development both of old forms and of new ones, and provides a coherent framework for the general reader.”
Contents: The Popular Arts; Post Pop and Mandarin Taste; Abstract Painting; Illusionary Art; Figurative Painting; Fetish Art and Happenings; Political Art; Art as Environment and Architecture; High-Tech and the Third World, plus a biographical list of the artists featured and a “further reading” list.
Includes the work of: Stephen Willats, Lawrence Weiner, Brice Marden, Robert Mapplethorpe, Vito Acconci, Jo Baer, Joseph Beuys, Lynda Benglis, Bob Law, Philip King, Alan Kessler, On Kawara, Douglas Huebler, John Kacere, Richard Long, Robert Mangold, Philip Guston, Hans Haacke, Nancy Grossman, Robert Grosvenor, Nancy Graves, Walter de Maria, U-Fan, Claude Viallet, Nancy Spero, Peter Saul, Robert Ryman, James Rosenquist, Joel Shapiro, Sylvia Sleigh, Robert Stackhouse, Paul Thek, Giulio Paolini, Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, Roman Opalka, Dennis Oppenheim, Tony Cragg, Judy Chicago, Larry Bell, Daniel Buren, Chuck Close, and many more.
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- Art In The Seventies
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