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Musée Fabre of Montpellier Agglomération opens Claude Viallat retrospective
Claude Viallat, Sans titre (Untitled), 1996, Acrylic on tarpaulin, 290 x 424 cm, Montpellier, Musée Fabre © musée Fabre of Montpellier Agglomération, photo Frédéric Jaulmes © ADAGP, Paris 2014.

MONTPELLIER.- An essential figure in contemporary art, Claude Viallat enjoys an international renown, even as he plays a major part in the Languedocian cultural landscape. From June 28 through November 2, 2014, the Musée Fabre of Montpellier Agglomération, which contains an important body of works by the artist, is offering a large retrospective, a genuine dive into his world, from his beginnings until his most recent works.

Made up of nearly 200 works, paintings, drawings and objects, the exhibition goes over Claude Viallat’s cursus over more than a half century, restoring his ceaseless exploration of techniques and materials. Carried out in close collaboration with the artist and based on the musée Fabre. fund, on loans from major national institutions, including the Musée national d’Art moderne Centre Georges-Pompidou, and the artist’s studio in Nîmes, this retrospective unveils the extraordinary variety of his productions around the same shape. In the event’s context, and for the first time, a selection of unseen works, taken from his wife’s collection, is revealed to the visitors.

For the first time, an exhibition highlights a selection of works taken from the collection of the artist’s wife.

Henriette Viallat, who herself studied in the School of Fine Arts in Montpellier, owns rare and often unseen pieces, collected since the very first years of the artist’s production.

They are exceptionally revealed during the exhibition Viallat - A retrospective in the Musée Fabre of Montpellier Agglomération.

Born in 1936 in Nîmes, trained at the School of Fine Arts in Montpellier, then in the School in Paris, Claude Viallat at the start queried the great tenets of figurative painting. The war in Algeria proved an important step with his first explorations on poor materials. The abandonment of figuration was the first radical change in his production. Claude Viallat invented, in 1966, a neutral shape, close to that of a palette, of a bean or a small bone. The affirmation of his style, with the invention of that, immediately recognizable, shape, was the departure point for an infinite exploration of the potentialities of color and of materials.

A founding member of the Supports/Surfaces group in 1970, Viallat and the artists he saw at the time (Bioulès, Devade, Dezeuze…) sought to split open the space even as they assumed the precariousness of the new materials.

During that period, he undertook sculptures, which he himself qualifies as «objects» . The theoretical and political prejudices, becoming more and more assertive within the group, led him to resign in 1971. He nonetheless continued his researches on color, materials, and the support.

Throughout his career, Viallat’s artistic approach was marked by major exhibitions and events: Guggenheim Museum, New-York in 1972, Centre Pompidou in 1982, the 43d Venice Biennale in 1988, where he represented France, and more recently, in 2014, in Los Angeles within a group show.

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