Francois Morellet - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 3, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
    Private Collection, Paris
    Private Collection

  • Literature

    Serge Lemoine, Francois Morellet, Paris, 2011, p. 80

  • Catalogue Essay

    Utilising the medium of neon in his sculptural works, François Morellet’s artistic practice is underlined by mathematical rules, geometry and scientific mastery. Despite exploring the rules of physics in his works, Morellet also celebrates the beauty of natural phenomena, visible in Untitled (2005) allowing chance to play a significant role in the creation of his works. Adapting to their surroundings, the artist’s compositions generate unfailingly unique viewing experiences, enticing the viewer into his dazzling microcosms.

    In 1961 Morellet founded the Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel (GRAV) with fellow Kinetic artists Julio Le Parc, Jean Pierre Yvaral, and Francisco Sobrino, who pursued what Morellet deemed a programmed experimental form of painting, the artist’s definition of research which sought to engage the viewer through immersive installations. In 1963 Morellet began using fluorescent lighting as a medium, a material that combined several elements of interest for him, namely line, light, and movement: ‘We were passionate about modern materials that hadn’t yet been “polluted” by traditional art. We particularly liked anything that could produce movement or light’ (François Morellet, quoted in Les sources lumineuses directes dans l’art, 1966, online).

    The present work combines Morellet’s earlier intricately geometric and abstract paintings and his later interest in neon and light. Using systematic patterns and grids, the present work is split into four equal sections, each corner continues into the diagonal, disrupting any symmetry within the composition. The striking blue neon appears to extend beyond the two-dimensional canvas, reaching into the third dimension. Morellet’s work emphasises the relationship between the work and the viewer, challenging our visual expectations and engaging our senses. Interrogating traditional notions of perception, the artist notes ‘I have reduced my intervention, my creativity and sensibility to a minimum… everything you find belongs to you as an observer’ (François Morellet, quoted in Annely Juda Fine Art, 60 Random Years of Systems, exh. cat., Annely Juda Fine Art, London, 2008, online).


5 lignes au hasard (π) en peinture et en néon no 3

signed, titled and dated 'Morellet 2010 "5 lignes au hasard (π) en peinture et en néon no 3"'
blue neon tubes and acrylic on canvas stretched over wood panel
200 x 200 cm (78 3/4 x 78 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2010.

£100,000 - 150,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £137,500

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Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 4 October 2018