Jean DEGOTTEX (1918-1988)

Ken Do
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated lower right
Signed, dated and titled on the reverse
Executed on 14 April 1961

130 x 97 cm
51 1/5 x 38 1/5 in.


Helios Art, Brussels
Private collection, France


Jean Frémon: Degottex, Editions du Regard, Paris, 1986, illustrated p. 283.

Sold in 2003

Jean Degottex began to paint around the age of twenty. In 1949, his first exhibition was held at Denise René's gallery, who had championed the abstract avant-garde since the war and was to become in the following decade the most important dealer of the new school of Paris. In 1952, his work was shown at the galerie Maeght as part of the Main éblouies show. In 1953, his work was shown as part of Younger European Painters at the Salomon Guggenheim Museum in New York. Throughout the decade, along with Simon Hantaï, he pioneered a lyrical abstraction which was to become a major influence on the School of New York. Around this time he became interested in writing and Zen philosophy, with canvases filled with large, almost calligraphic, brushstrokes on increasingly neutral backgrounds. His works on paper from this period, bearing witness to these new interests, include a discourse on the presence of colour (see the "Rose" series).

A tireless innovator, Degottex's exploration of abstraction encouraged him down new and ever more personal paths. "A growing concision, always far-eastern in feel, moving between gestures and signs, signs and writing, and legibility and illegibility - these are the developments we see in the Métasphères (a particuarly striking series of works started at the end of the 1960s). On each monochrome painting a perfect circle has been traced, not just a symbol of totality, but also poetically linked with the sun - Horsphères in which only a subtle imprint remains" (Jacques Busse). In contant evolution, throught his career Degottex never stopped his examination of writing, colour, space and matter in an extraordinarily varied œuvre.

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