Jean Fautrier, Matter and Light

“Tete d’Otage, No. 4,” 1944. Fautrier

Paris’ Museum of Modern Art revisits French artist Jean Fautrier (1898-1964) with a major retrospective of his paintings, drawings and sculptures (to May 20, 2018). He is not well known outside France. But in Europe he is considered one of the most important precursors of “art informel,”  a style which developed parallel to American abstract expressionism. In his famous series – Hostages (1943-1945), Objets (1955), Nus (1956), Partisans (1957) – the painting material itself becomes a major subject of the work.

Fautrier “Hostages” series shocked viewers when they were first exhibited in October 1945 at the Galerie René Drouin. The paintings —depicting faces of prisoners held by the Gestapo— are as powerful, troubling and thought provoking today as they were then. With anonymous, featureless heads and abstracted floating torsos, Fautrier’s hostages were described by André Malraux as “the most beautiful monument to the dead of the Second World War.”

Jean Fautrier, Matière et Lumière, to May 20, 2019, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris