François Morellet

Two Warps and Wefts of Short Lines 0° 90°


François Morellet born 1926
Original title
2 Trames de tirets 0°-90°
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1000 × 1000 mm
frame: 1105 × 1106 × 67 mm
Purchased 1974

Display caption

Morellet was inspired by the mathematical principles behind the early geometric abstractions of the Dutch Neo-plastic artists (Mondrian, van Doesburg, Vantongerloo). He used regular grids and repetition in an attempt to reduce the role of the artist’s individual sensibility to a minimum. In this painting he used square patterns with lines of slightly different lengths, rotated and combined in order to convey a sense of depth. He was one of the older founding members of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV).

Gallery label, October 2016

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Catalogue entry

François Morellet born 1926

T01840 2 Trames de Tirets 0°-90° (Two Warps and Wefts of Short Lines 0°-90°) 1955-6

Inscribed '2 Trames de Tirets 0° 90° | Morellet | 1955' on stretcher
Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 39 3/8 (100 x 100)
Purchased from the artist through the Lucy Milton Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1974
Exh: François Morellet, Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, May 1958 (works not listed); Morellet, Galerie Denise René, Paris, March-April 1967 (works not listed); François Morellet, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, May-September 1973 (9), as 'Tirets gris clair sur blanc 0°-90°' 1956; Morellet: Paintings 1953-57, Neons 1973, Lucy Milton Gallery, London, January 1974 (works not listed)

The artist has written (letter of 24 September 1974) that he put this picture on a new stretcher in 1973 because the old one was broken, and copied the original inscription.

This painting was seldom exhibited because it was the first in which he used this system of superimposed short lines and a format 1 x 1m which he subsequently abandoned for 80 x 80cm. He therefore preferred to exhibit the different examples of the same system in the same format. He made in 1956 a work with the same system, but with shorter lines at a different angle and in a format 80 x 80cm on wood. Then in 1960 he made a whole series in this format 80 x 80cm on wood.

This particular painting was originally executed in black and white. But the strength of the black lines seemed to him too harsh and a year later he covered the surface with a thin coat of white. This made the lines appear grey-blue.

His usual practice is to superimpose lines of identical length, but in this painting he for the first and last time superimposed two sets of lines of slightly different length. The superimposition was made without attempting to centralise or balance out the composition.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.541, reproduced p.541

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