Dia Art Foundation is currently presenting a stunning retrospect of the work of French artist François Morellet – both at its venues at Dia:Chelsea in New York City and Dia:Beacon in Beacon, New York. This is the first in-depth examination of the artist’s oeuvre to be presented in the United States in more than thirty years.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE FRANCOIS MORELLET, a major retrospective on his work, through 2 June 2018, Dia:Chelsea, New York diaart.org
“From the beginning of his career in 1950 until the time of his death in 2016, Morellet was continuously engaged in expanding the definition of abstract and Conceptual art,” said Jessica Morgan, Director, Dia Art Foundation. “Dia’s survey exhibition will present his pioneering approach to creating object-based paintings, neon works, and architectural and site-related installations. Presenting Morellet in two of Dia’s sites, the exhibition will provide audiences the opportunity to experience the full range of his achievements—such as how he harnessed the properties of light and incorporated chance, mathematical formulas, and humor into his practice.”
Working with lines and primary forms such as circles, squares, and triangles, Morellet adopted a large variety of mediums early on in his practice, including adhesive tape, iron, neon tubes, paint, steel, and wire mesh. While aiming for artistic objectivity, Morellet steadily infused his systematic explorations with playfulness and levity. Béatrice Gross, adjunct curator, explained, “In the late 1950s, the artist started to disturb his grids by adopting chance as organizing factor, following the random sequences of the number pi or the digits listed in his local phone directory. Randomness was also included in Morellet’s work through the participation of the viewer in interactive installations.
“As one of the founding members of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel, an experimental artist’s collaborative that emerged in France in the early 1960s, Morellet also investigated the creative potential of kinetic and optical effects. Morellet increasingly inflected his rigorous abstract combinations with a witty sense of humor, as the tongue-in-cheek puns and other play of words in many of his titles testify, such as the palindrome No End Neon or the portmanteau Géométree.”
Dia’s presentation will span the artist’s career, featuring nearly fifty works ranging from the early 1950s to the 2010s. The first three galleries at Dia:Chelsea will give a comprehensive overview of Morellet’s early conceptual categories as defined by the artist himself: “juxtaposition; superimposition; fragmentation; interference; randomization; and destabilization.” These galleries will include works dating from 1952, when the artist fully adopted abstract geometric systems, through the early 1970s.
To supplement the presentation at Dia:Chelsea, Dia will present the site-specific neon installation No End Neon (1990/2017) at Dia:Beacon. Reconfigured for the museum by the Morellet studio according to the artist’s previously determined system, this re-siting will form the most expansive iteration of the work, with over sixty neon tubes spread throughout Dia:Beacon’s lower-level gallery. This installation will allow visitors to encounter Morellet’s artwork alongside his peers represented in Dia’s permanent collection, including Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, and Fred Sandback.