(1896 – 1986), Switzerland

Gérard Schneider Biography

Swiss painter Gérard Schneider pioneered the Lyrical Abstraction movement, creating a massive body of work that focused on personal expression post-World War II.

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Life

Gérard Schneider was born in 1896 in Saint-Croix, Switzerland. In his youth, he worked alongside his father as a cabinetmaker and antique collector. In 1916, he was accepted into the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, Paris and in 1918 studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under the tutelage of Fernand Cormon.

Schneider began exhibiting his work publicly in 1926 and was a celebrated artist in his lifetime. His work was exhibited at the first two iterations of documenta as well as three iterations of both the Venice Biennale and São Paulo Biennial. In the 50s, he signed an exclusive contract with the Kootz Gallery in New York. Schneider held his first retrospective in 1953 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.

Schneider died in 1986.

Lyrical Abstraction

Gérard Schneider was one of the proponents of the Lyrical Abstraction movement that emerged in post-war Paris. Along with his contemporaries German-French artist Hans Hartung and French artist Pierre Soulages, Schneider pioneered the movement as a counterpoint to Cubism, Surrealism, and Geometric Abstraction.

In comparison to the artistic movements that preceded it, Lyrical Abstraction put a focus on personal expression over sanitised dreams or rigid form. Schneider has previously described working under this tradition as such: 'the shape is born, whether lyrical or dramatic, with its colour and technical means, without any reference to external nature.'

The works that Schneider created through this sensibility were gestural swathes and blocks of colour across canvas and paper. His work has a calligraphic quality to it, in which each stroke contains a variety of textures and depths. Composition (1944), a painting acquired by the Musée National d'Art Moderne in the same year, was a work full of a variety of black brush strokes in different weights and lengths. Another work, Opus 95E/1 (1961) is composed of thick black, red, yellow, and white strokes at the centre of a blue-tinged canvas.

With regards to his paintings, Schneider has commented that '[they] should be looked [at] in the same way as music is listened to.' Echoing this, French art critic Michel Ragon has said that Schneider's work should be understood as an orchestra, one that expresses 'passion, fury, romanticism.'

Apart from painting, Schneider also used lithography to create work in his signature style, following the same sensibilities, using gestural colours and brush strokes. However, these pieces are marked by an even more graphic and bold quality in their lines and details as a result of the even washes of ink applied onto the stone slabs used to create them.

Exhibitions

Gérard Schneider was widely exhibited during his lifetime. He held exhibitions at the Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin; Musée du Luxembourg, Paris; Venice Biennale; and the São Paulo Biennial. His works can be seen at the collections of the Centre Pompidou; MoMA; Modern Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro; and Fondation Gandur pour l'Art in Geneva.

Arianna Mercado | Ocula | 2022

Gérard Schneider
featured artworks

Sans titre by Gérard Schneider contemporary artwork painting
Gérard Schneider Sans titre, c. 1983 Acrylic on paper
149.5 x 108 cm
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Opus 18 i , Juin by Gérard Schneider contemporary artwork painting
Gérard Schneider Opus 18 i , Juin, 1967 Oil on canvas
150 x 200 cm
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Sans titre by Gérard Schneider contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Gérard Schneider Sans titre, c. 1983 Acrylic on paper
149.5 x 107.5 cm
Perrotin Request Price & Availability
Sans titre by Gérard Schneider contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Gérard Schneider Sans titre, 1952 Gouache and indian ink on paper
45.5 x 62.5 cm
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Sans titre by Gérard Schneider contemporary artwork painting
Gérard Schneider Sans titre, c. 1985 Acrylic and metal foil on paper
149.5 x 106.7 cm
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Opus 86 i by Gérard Schneider contemporary artwork painting
Gérard Schneider Opus 86 i, 1969 Acrylic on canvas
100 x 81 cm
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