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Centre Pompidou devotes an exhibition to Swiss abstract artist Gottfried Honegger
Gottfried Honegger, Tableau--relief R 1120, 1991-1992. Carton decoupe et paint colle sur toile, 150 x 150 c. Schaan collection Hilti Art Foundation. ©Heinz Preute, Vaduz.

PARIS.- For the first time, the Centre Pompidou devotes an exhibition to the Swiss artist Gottfried Honegger. Through a selection of some 50 works (drawings, paintings and sculptures) the exhibition examines the career of this major figure in abstract art, focussing in particular on the genesis and development of his Tableaux-reliefs or “Relief Paintings”.

Today 97 years of age, Gottfried Honegger is an artist ripe for rediscovery. He began his career as a graphic designer in Zurich, close to the Swiss Concrete artists. It was only in 1958, during a stay in New York, that he decided to devote himself entirely to art. It was there that he first showed monochrome paintings on surfaces covered by a repetitive pattern of geometric elements in thin card, his Tableaux-reliefs.

In 1960, he moved to Paris. Fascinated by Jacques Monod’s Chance and Necessity, Gottfried Honegger, in 1970, was one of the first artists in France to turn to computing. The idea of the programme also inspired the design of the Tableaux-reliefs, which became monumental in format. The distribution of colours and forms, module by module, was also randomised by recourse to dice.

Escaping all monotony despite its serial aspect, this system of production allowed the artist a great variety of approaches. The 1980s saw the appearance of multi-panel paintings and canvases with cut-out sections that fundamentally involve the wall behind in the work. Since the 1990s, the Tableaux-reliefs – emancipated from the picture plane – engage with space in the form of reliefs or sculptures in painted metal. The exhibition culminates in the Pliages, white cylinders with cut-away sections whose forms unfold almost graphically in space.

A tribute to an artist whose development has always reconciled the subtle with the radical, this exhibition at the Centre Pompidou includes works from French public collections and from major private collections abroad.

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