French abstract painter Claude Viallat has established an 'anti-painting' practice of repetitive abstraction. He is considered a founder of the Supports/Surfaces movement.Read More
Viallat was born in Nîmes, France. He enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts in Montpellier in 1955, where the artist met his future wife, Henriette Pous. After completing military service, Viallat attended the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. There, he encountered the work of American artists such as Kenneth Noland and Mark Rothko. He began his teaching career in 1964 at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Nice, later teaching at the École des Beaux-Arts in Limoges.
Claude Viallat is known for his vibrant and repetitive abstract painting.
The artist's distinctive signature style incorporates bright colours and a repeated rectangular 'bone' shape painted onto draped canvas, fabric samples, and tarpaulin. Of the French artists in the Supports/Surfaces movement, Viallat gained the most exposure internationally, especially in the United States.
Alongside artists such as Vincent Bioulès and Daniel Dezeuze, Viallat is considered one of the founders of the Supports/Surfaces movement, which originated in France in the late 1960s and early 70s. The movement was critical of the art school system in France and wanted to expand the practice of painting beyond the traditional stretched canvas and paint. A fundamental tenet of the Supports/Surfaces movement was the idea that the practice of painting must also, to some degree, be accompanied by theory and critical thinking.
Viallat creates paintings that are freed from the limitations of the stretcher and the canvas. His 1972 work 1972/007 is an early step in moving away from stretched canvas. The work is simply a sheet of fabric dyed with Viallat's signature repeated nugget shape. Similarly, 1982/003 (1982) is painted on a large section of tarpaulin.
In his more recent work, Viallat has further expanded his use of materials while maintaining his signature repeated shape. He has created works using burlap, rugs, handkerchiefs, parasols, tents, and parachutes. These diverse textured materials have prompted Viallat to pay closer attention to their material nature. His mark-making technique has also expanded to include stains, holes, and patches. His work 2018/060 is comprised of eight pieces of attached fabric. This technique allows greater flexibility for Viallat to explore not only the textural elements of the work but also the shape that the painting takes on the wall.
In 2010, Viallat created several works in collaboration with major fashion houses. He created a line of boots for Sergio Rossi and a series of designs for the iconic silk scarves of Hermès.
Viallat received the Fine Arts Academy Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca award in 2006.
Claude Viallat's work was exhibited in a solo show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1982 and shown at the 43rd Venice Biennale in 1988. He has also been included in exhibitions in many prestigious institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Serpentine Galleries in London, and the Dallas Museum of Art.
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