Single File: Simon Hantaï, Etude

by Art Fag City on April 22, 2010 Single File

art fag city, Simon Hantaï, etude
Simon Hantaï, Etude, 1969. Oil on canvas, on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Chelsea through April 24.

You don't see much of Simon Hantaï,'s work on this side of the Atlantic, mostly because during his lifetime he was a notorious recluse and possibly because his French nationality undermined the idea that Americans were the only true heroes of post-war Abstract painting. But this work from Etudes deserves more attention than it has received over the years.

Hantaï was best known for a process he developed called pliage, used here, which involves folding the actual canvas, painting exposed sections, and then unfolding it to reveal the finished work. This was a means of incorporating chance into the work, by keeping the artist from knowing precisely where he was painting.

It’s a risky move, but here it pays off – the technique lending the surface a richness of color and a sense of depth, despite its inherent flatness and single-color palette. The result is beautiful and if Matisse cut-outs and Pollock drip-paintings had a baby, this would be it. A mix of both their best qualities, the balance between paint and negative space invigorates the surface and makes the canvas feel alive.

On view through April 24 at Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea.

Single file is a weekly column maintained by Curatorial Fellow David Harper that highlights one work of art we feel is particularly worthy of attention.

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