Black is a Color - Living Hommage to Aimé Maeght

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Black is a Color - Living Hommage to Aimé Maeght
Anselm Kiefer, Der Rhein (1959), wooden book, 140 x 91,5 x 63,5 cm, private collection.

SAINT-PAUL, FRANCE.- Fondation Maeght presents Black is a color - Living hommage to Aimé Maeght, on view through November 5, 2006. Revealed in the 19th century by the dark visions of Goya and Victor Hugo, justified by the shapeless, infernal and chimerical phantasmagorias of Odilon Redon, rediscovered by Manet in the shadows of Velasquez, black was a paradoxal dawn of the 20th century even it announced itself as a twilight of the previous symbolist and romantic century. And then Matisse came and asserted it, theorized precociously and proclaimed as a word of order: black is a color. Addition and substraction at the same time of all colors, scientifically considered as a non-color like white, neutral combination of all colors, black describes itself more generally as the appearance of a material which surface does not reflect any visible radiation. Descartes in his Dioptrique reminds: «there exist some bodies, when they are met by rays of light, absorb them and take their force, those that we call black, they do not have any other color than darkness».

Black structures the 20th century, imposed its tonality more vigorous than sad, more architectural than nocturnal, more subtle than force. «Black is like red, like green, like blue, like any other shade, black has its own light, its own half-color, its own shades; it does not make itself an absolutely opaque spot among surrounding objects; it is linked to them by reflects, by recalls, by breakings; in other words, it digs a hole in the painting» (Théophile Gauthier).

On December 6th 1946, the Maeght Gallery in Paris opens an exhibition “Black is a color”, putting together 25 still unknown works by Bonnard, Matisse, Braque, Rouault, Van Velde and other renowned artists at that time. The exhibition came with publishing of the first issue of «Derrière le miroir», (review which became legendary founded by Aimé Maeght and his publishing house «Pierre à feu»), it proclaimed also, clear and loud on the cover, that black is a color. Ornated with 6 lithographs of Geer Van Velde, Jacques Kober asserts: “Black color gives us decline, a kind of poverty. It’s a loss of balance, anappeal of air. It’s black that makes colors to keep well away from others. It’s a matter of a light beyond the light, of it’s acclimatization and that this light allows a revival, a source (My Hungers, there are an ends of black air, says Rimbaud). (…) But black color is at once an abstract notion and dangerous as far as it clears off, as well as a concrete element. Black concrete (if I can say so) can be a burning sensation or a caress, a splash. By backflash, it’s presence puts the painting all to use constructed from colors a synthesis of light and of space (colors on the canvas and not in the tube)». Using again the title «Black is a color», the Maeght Foundation will pay homage to the exhibition and to the review, both founders. It will be also an opportunity to include contemporary art from the beginning of this century, through November 5 2006.

Moreover - a successful hazard of schedule comes into it. It will be the occasion to celebrate the centenary of Aimé Maeght’s birth (1906). Geer Van Veld, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque and Pierre Bonnard will be «present» witnesses from the exhibition in 1946, Joan Miró will offer some irrepressible waves. Lucio Fontana, Olivier Debré, Simon Hantaï, Hans Hartung will scratch and will open the night of canvases. Ellsworth Kelly, Ad Reinhardt, Josef Albers and Fernand Léger, Aurélie Nemours, Barnett Newman will structure the infinite velvety texture of their dark pigments. Robert Motherwell, Willem De Kooning, Kazuo Shiraga, Bram Van Velde, Raoul Ubac, Henri Michaux, Franz Kline, Jean Dubuffet, André Masson will inscribe their gesture on matter. Alberto Burri, Richard Serra, Jannis Kounellis, Claudio Parmeggiani, Antonio Saura, Arnulf Rainer, Gerhardt Richter, Antoni Tàpies and Pierre Soulages will shed their fat and silky exhalations. Alighiero Boetti, Pol Bury, Jean Tinguely, Robert Malaval will abolish the heaviness of their materials. Bernar Venet, Christian Boltanski, Brice Marden, Allan Mc Collum, Anish Kapoor, Anselm Kiefer will mix by the mean of darkness limits between figure and shapelessnes. Sculpture and cinema won’t be left off (Tony Smith, Skoda for sculpture and Hélène Delprat, Camille Henron but also Yervant Gianikian for animated image). Finally, Nicolas Chardon, Pascal Pinaud, Mark Dion, Henri Foucauld, Pierrette Bloch, Alain Fleischer, the group BP will invent, not devoided of sense of humor, with what Jean Dubuffet noticed to tell the variations of black: «brilliance, mat, shining, polished, rough, is an abstraction; there is no black, there are black matters”.

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