Daniel Soutif

  • André Cadere

    Three short documentary films by Sarkis, Ida Biard, and David Ebony, comprise the heart of André Cadere’s retrospective. Without the evidence supplied by these films, and the photographs, letters, and caricatures attributed to the Belgian artist Jacques Charlier also included in the exhibition, the dozens of colored rods on display at P.S. I would have remained enigmatic baubles or, even worse, would have been mistaken for Minimalist sculptures. The status of these objects as instruments allied to a truly unique critical practice rather than “works” in a traditional sense, would have been entirely


    CONVENTIONAL WISDOM TELLS US THAT the father of “object art” was Marcel Duchamp—that in transplanting the perfectly ordinary manufactured urinal of his 1917 Fountain from the vendor’s shelf to the exhibition space Duchamp rattled the foundation of the work of art itself. Though the mere reenactment of Duchamp’s maneuver would seem to lack any intrinsic interest,1 it is nevertheless among the most often-repeated artistic gestures of our century. This poses us a question. Duchamp’s readymades transformed esthetic judgment, challenged the functions and powers of critical discourse. Yet having

  • Paul-Armand Gette

    “Let us not separate art from science,” wrote Paul-Armand Gette in 1978. “For, as little effort as we make to understand scientific discourse, it does not seem lacking in poetry to us.” Emotion and poetry are not usually expected to be part of the sciences. Yet for 30 years, Gette has worked in this nearly deserted area. In particular, he explores the science of taxonomy, the ordering of reality's labyrinths through the flowing wisdom of a Latin that exoticizes everything: botany, entomology, mineralogy, etc.

    There is no synthesizing order in Gette's universe, only possibly progressive shifts

  • “L'Internationale Situationniste, 1957–1972”

    The Internationale Situationniste has made a surprising comeback on the French scene, after having sunk into the recesses of revolutionary history following its self-disbandment in 1972. The Centre Pompidou recently presented an exhibition of the artistic output of a movement that claimed to have had a direct role in triggering the events of May 1968 in France. More than any other movement of the ’60s, Situationism had roots in several artistic avant-gardes. Founded in 1957, the movement came out of the dissolution of COBRA, the Internationale Lettriste, the Mouvement International pour un

  • François Morellet

    François Morellet’s work combines a purist approach to systems, which comes directly from the great geometric and Constructivist traditions, with an irrepressible sense of humor, whose antecedents can be traced through Dada back to great 19th-century French humorists such as Alphonse Allais. Morellet’s work from the early ’50s prefigured certain aspects of Minimalism and Op art by several years, and the artist has continued adding new systems to those he developed originally. However, Morellet uses a comic mode to undermine and expose the absurdity of the very systems he employs. In this way,

  • L'art Africain

    L’Art africain by Jacques Kerchaches, Jean-Louis Paudrat, and Lucien Stéphan. Paris: Editions Mazenod, 1988, 620 pp., 248 color and 821 black and white illustrations, FF. 880.

    IN 1965, A SMALL Parisian publisher, Editions Mazenod, launched a series entitled “L’Art et les grandes civilizations” with the publication of André Leroi-Gourhan’s Préhistoire de l’art occidental (published in the U.S. by Harry N. Abrams under the title Treasures of Prehistoric Art), a work acknowledged at the time to be fundamental to the field. Mazenod has now brought out a collection of essays on African art in a no

  • Etienne-Martin

    Today at the age of 76, Etienne-Martin occupies a place of his own in sculpture. He has created not only an autonomous world, but a diverse one. If one didn’t know that the author of this work has held a professorship at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, one might classify his work as art brut. That Harald Szeemann should have chosen such an artist to occupy the space here makes good sense. Szeemann, who last year presented a beautiful group of works by Mario Merz in the same space, plays the ruggedly primitivist forms of Etienne-Martin against the austere spatial geometry of the vast chapel.

  • Niele Toroni

    Some artists have approached painting through its surface, others through pigment or color. Niele Toroni has chosen to approach it through the brush. This choice has resulted in the method that the painter has been using, since January 1967, with absolute rigor and perfect regularity. The articulation of this method varies little. Toroni upholds one single rule: on a given support a N° 50 brush is applied at regular intervals of 30 centimeters. Only the given supports—canvas, cotton, paper, oilcloth, wall, floor—and the time taken to complete the work vary. Sometimes the brushmarks fall into

  • “La Couleur Seule, L’Experience Du Monochrome”

    The monochrome constitutes one of 20th-century art’s main watersheds. Originating in 1917 with Kasimir Malevich’s White Square on a White Ground, the development of the monochrome proceeded in 1921 with Alexandr Rodchenko’s trio of paintings Jaune pur, Rouge pur, and Bleu pur (Pure yellow, Pure red, Pure blue). These four works are supposed to have marked a point of no return for the artists. But rather than judging this the end of painting (a point at which Rodchenko, in particular, believed he had arrived), these monochromes, in fact, constituted a point of departure. Monochrome developed into

  • Michel Parmentier

    Works of art obey capricious rules, particularly in matters of content and context. In some cases context is not simply a matter relegated to the periphery, but becomes a central issue to the artwork and obliterates almost all its other properties. Michel Parmentier’s work could very well be considered a case where the original context of the work’s making is primary.

    Considered on their own, Parmentier’s paintings and drawings present a number of remarkable formal qualities, but they seem, despite their context, to be timeless and authorless. At the Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Parmentier

  • Robert Combas

    In 1981, Robert Combas—who was only 24 years old at the time—instantaneously achieved great fame. As impertinent as his paintings, he declared himself the leader of figuration libre (free figuration) in France. Seven years later, the expression “figuration libre” is old hat. Fluxus artist Ben Vautrier coined the term after seeing an early showing of Robert Combas’ and Hervé di Rosa’s work. Soon, two other very young artists—Rémi Blanchard and Francois Boisrond—became associated with the movement. Sharing the same taste for spontaneous painting, taking their inspiration from comic strips rather

  • Eugene Leroy

    Eugène Leroy, now 78 years old, was until recently practically unknown as a painter. A native of northern France, where he still lives, Leroy has quietly realized a considerable body of work. In spite of more than 20 one-person shows—two of which were in Paris at the Galerie Claude Bernard in 1961 and 1963—Leroy had to wait until the early ’80s to capture critical attention from both the institutions and the market. This traveling retrospective, which comprised 80 paintings, spectacularly confirmed Leroy’s new-found status as a major painter and should go far in establishing him as such.

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