Simon Hantaï

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"…through folding I put my eyes out."

photo: Edouard Boubat

Born in 1922 in Biatorbágy (Hungary), Simon Hantaï studied at the Budapest School of Fine Arts from 1941 to 1946. In 1948, he moved to Paris on a scholarship, and ended up staying settling there permanently. In Paris, Hantaï met André Breton and quickly became associated with the Parisian Surrealists. Jackson Pollock’s action paintings and the work of the Abstract Expressionists also directly inspired Hantaï’s own turn toward monumentally scaled abstraction.

Known for his kaleidoscopic abstract works, in 1960 he created the technique of pliage (folding), in which a canvas is crumpled and knotted, uniformly painted over, and then spread out to reveal a matrix of alternations between pigment and ground. The technique dominated the work he made during the rest of his career, re-emerging in diverse forms. He died in his adopted city, Paris, in 2008 at the age of 85.

Untitled, 1965

oil on canvas, 71,5 x 57,5 cm

“The canvas is folded in the four corners and the centre, then covered with one single colour. A few strokes of the brush highlight a few folds or blank areas here and there.” (S.H.)