'my paintings have a short life, but they have several of them'–Claude Rutault
Perrotin New York is pleased to present a collection of four historical works by Claude Rutault, marking the artist’s second show at Perrotin New York and his fifth show with the gallery. For this exhibition, titled de-finitions/methods from the 70s, we are proud to reintroduce Rutault’s famous works, which have not been on view since the 1980’s. These de-finitions/methods have been included at the Biënnale van de kritiek, Antwerp, Belgium (1979); documenta 7, Kassel, Germany (1982); and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (1983).
In 1973 Rutault made a radical decision to paint his canvas the same colour as the wall on which it was hung. Since then, Rutault’s work has dealt with painting as a concept in itself, rather than painting as a finished and autonomous object. He takes the space in which his works are presented into account, allowing them to evolve according to their installation space. The canvases and colours are constantly changing depending on where the work is shown. Rutault’s practice is the writing and issuing of texts indicating protocols and procedures called 'de finitions/methods,' according to which a gallery, collector, or institution—known as the 'charge-taker'—agrees to 'actualize' a given work. Rutault explains the practice: 'the hyphen after ‘de-’ eliminates or at least lessens the ‘finition,’ i.e., the definitive, frozen authoritarian nature of the word, which doesn’t suit my work.' Rutault’s paintings are no longer unalterable objects, but rather works in progress.
The first of his de-finitions/methods, created in 1973, provided the seed for hundreds of unique works to follow. This exhibition will feature definition/method 14: repainted  / de-painted , which reads 'a simple diptych: two paintings hung very close together. a canvas from before 1973 is repainted the same colour as the wall. to its right, a canvas also from before 1973, unpainted. before repainting or unpainting them, the original paintings have been photographed in colour as well as in black and white. the photographs will not be shown, but will be kept available for consultation.' This work highlights the ability for Rutault’s works to be reborn, as the charge-taker must repaint existing canvases.
Claude Rutault considers himself a painter, although he does not physically touch paint or his canvases, nor does he oversee their production. Rather, he allows his de-finitions/methods to guide the works, keeping himself at a distance from their actualisation. As he describes, 'I write paintings.'
Claude Rutault has taken part in multiple projects in the United States. He was asked to take part in a residency at MoMA PS1 during the winter of 1978–1979. Also in 1979, his definition/method 107: 2 plans/ 3 dimensions was presented at Peter Downsbrough’s space in New York. In 1998, Rutault participated in a group show, titled Premises, at the Guggenheim Museum, Soho, New York. And, in 2015, his de-finition/method: listening to painting/looking at music was actualised at the Festival Soluna by the Meyerson Symphony of Dallas, Texas.
Claude Rutault (b. 1941 in Trois-Moutiers, France) lives and works in La Celle St Cloud, outside of Paris. Since the 1970s, he has developed over 600 definitions/methods, many of which have been actualised in museums, galleries, private collections, and as public works. Currently, he has an exhibition at Museum Picasso in Paris, titled Picasso-Rutault. Grand Écart, three years after a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art Centre Pompidou in October 2015. A permanent installation, inaugurated in 2015, may be seen in the Pavillon Dufour, Château de Versailles, France.
Claude Rutault’s work can also be found in leading private and public collections in France and Europe, including Collection Billarrant: Le Silo, Cergy, France; SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gand, Belgium; CAPC Musée d’art contemporain. Bordeaux, France; FRAC Bretagne, Le Consortium, Dijon, France; FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkerque, France; FRAC Lorraine, Metz, France; Château d’Oiron, France; Espace de l’art concret, Mouans Sartoux, France; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; FNAC Fonds National d’Art Contemporain; MNAM Musée National d’Art moderne Centre Georges Pompidou; Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg, France; Mamco, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland.
Press release courtesy Perrotin.