The gallery was close to François Morellet, disappeared last year, for nearly thirty years. While the Dia Art Foundation is preparing to devote a retrospective to it *, the first in New York since that of the Brooklyn Museum in 1985, the gallery is associated with this news from a particular angle by approaching its work through drawing.
This project follows the principle of an exhibition we presented in the spring of 2014 in Chelsea, New York. It is naturally revised not only according to the place, the context but also works that have since found a destination.
Although François Morellet’s systematic approach is now known internationally thanks to multiple exhibitions, publications and articles, one face of it has been little shown: works on paper.
By the early 1950s, and in an extremely pioneering manner, Morellet conceived a geometric abstraction produced from systems that sought to minimize the subjectivity of the artist. As each system predetermines the work and its execution, it means the importance of the drawing which reflects the primacy of its intentions, the place where it is set up, where it anticipates, what it will be able to scale and with other materials.
François Morellet’s drawings can be regarded as relatively discrete works. This observation does not only concern format questions (mainly before the 1970s), but also the parsimonious choice of processes. This ostensible economy of means does not naturally hinder the effect they produce, quite the contrary, thus demonstrating that a drawing is already everything, in the whole that it manifests.
While most of the drawings in the 1950s-60s are related to other works that have been produced – or remain as projects – mostly paintings, they should not be considered only as preliminary studies but as works in themselves, perfectly autonomous, which is confirmed by the drawings produced in the 1970s when the artist embarked on a problematic directly linked to the notion of space (remember that François Morellet never stopped experimenting with new materials and that he was one of the first artists to use neon).
The exhibition will bring together pieces from different periods, thus offering a first-class ensemble. It will also show some preparatory works for projects carried out by Morellet, from the gallery’s archives, particularly those of its Hommage à Lamour, a neon perennial work visible on one of the facades of the Museum of Fine Arts in Nancy, very close to the gallery .
* Exhibition at Dia Chelsea and Dia Beacon, from October 28, 2017 to June 2, 2018.