new-york

Jean Fautrier

Michael Werner | New York

The full measure of Jean Fautrier’s art has never been taken in this country, and it is not clear that it can be, despite a flurry of interest. A recent show, “Black Nudes and Other Early Works”—mostly mid-to-late-’20s pieces that precede Fautrier’s better-known coloristic paintings—offered figures and still lives “consumed by absence,” to use a phrase of Yves Bonnefoy, and American art generally demands that the figure have presence, the more blatant and forceful the better. These figures exist on the threshold of perception, crossing it but not definitively. Nu sur fond noir (Nude on black background), Petit nu noir (Small black nude), Nu debout (Standing nude), Tête noir (Black head), and Tête de femme de profil (Head of a woman in profile), all 1926, partake as much of disappearance as appearance, as much of memory as immediacy. The marvelously subtle Bouquet des fleurs sur fond noir

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