Simon Hantaï  

Selected works
Texts
Biographie
Biography
Exhibitions at the gallery
News
Publications







SIMON HANTAÏ

1922
Birth of Simon Hantaï on December 7, Bia, Hungary

1942-1948
Studies at the School of Fine Arts in Budapest.

1948
Leaves Hungary and travels through Italy before settling in France.

1950–1951
First “Surrealizing” works, trying out different techniques: collage, frottage, scraping with razor blades, dripping and even folding. Becomes interested in gestural painting.

1953
First exhibition, “Peintures” [Paintings] at L’Étoile Scellée Gallery, Paris, presented by André Breton.
November: publication of issue no. 1 of the journal Médium: communication surréaliste, known as the “Simon Hantaï issue,” with a cover and illustrations by the artist.

1954
Simon Hantaï meets Jean Fournier, then director of Kléber Gallery, Paris.

1955
The “Alice in Wonderland” exhibition is organized at the Kléber Gallery by Charles Estienne. Hantaï breaks with Surrealism.

1956
“Sexe-Prime, Hommage à Jean-Pierre Brisset et autres peintures de Simon Hantaï” [“Sexe-Prime, Hommage to Jean-Pierre Brisset and other paintings by Simon Hantaï”]: exhibition at the Kléber Gallery, Paris.

1957
“Les Cérémonies commémoratives de la deuxième condamnation de Siger de Brabant” [“Ceremonies in Commemoration of the Second Condemnation of Siger of Brabant”], a collaborative Happening with Georges Mathieu, Kléber Gallery, Paris.

1958
Exhibition: “Souvenir de l’Avenir” [Memory of the Future] at the Kléber Gallery. Hantaï shows gestural paintings, many of which are presented in homage to theological texts.
Moves away from gestural painting and begins covering the canvas by means of juxtaposed daubs of paint, over which are applied colored glazes or washes. Certain paintings are also covered with hand-written text, as in the central example of the large painting Peinture (Écriture Rose) [Painting (Pink Writing)], 1958–59.

1959
First retrospective: “Peintures 1949 – 1959” [Paintings 1949-1959], Kléber Gallery, Paris.

1960
Hantaï adopts the folding “method”.

1962
Exhibits, at the Kléber Gallery, Peintures Mariales, from the suite entitled, Le Mur, dits : manteaux de la Vierge [The Wall, called : Mantles of the Virgin]. Once the canvas has been folded (or more precisely, crumpled from edge to edge), all visible parts are painted. The canvas is then unfolded and stretched, revealing an allover surface traversed by areas of reserve.
Finished paintings are identified by a letter indicating the folding “method” employed in their making (a for uniformly folded canvases, b for monochromes, c for canvases dripped or splashed for twice-folded canvases with paint prior to the folding process, and d for twice-folded canvases), followed by a number indicating the order.

1963-1964
In the series called La Porte, dits: les Catamurons [The Door, called : Catamurons] – inspired by the name of a place and the image of a towel on a white wall – the folded canvas is painted, then covered again with a layer of white paint; next, the four edges of the canvas are folded back, and the remaining square crumpled anew and again painted several times. Sometimes, the four sides are folded without being painted or primed.

1964–1965
The suite Maman! Maman!, dits: La Saucisse [Mama ! Mama ! called : The Sausage] reflects Hantaï’s interest in the work of French poet Henri Michaux and the latter’s notion of the “cosmic sausage” – i.e., the need to go back to an embryonic, cellular level and build anew from there, refusing preconceived formal solutions. The canvas is knotted in four corners to make a formless sack or pouch, then painted and folded several times over before being unfolded and stretched. The forms thus obtained float in the nonpainted space. These works are later called Panses [Paunches].

1965
Two exhibitions at the Jean Fournier Gallery take place in Paris: “138 peintures de petit format. Jalons des années 1962 - 1965” [138 Small-Format Paintings.milestones of the Years 1962-1965] and “12 peintures récentes de grand format” [12 Recent Large-Format Paintings].

1966
Hantaï moves to Meun, near the Forêt de Fontainebleau. The new locale sees the production of an eponymous series, Les Meuns (1967-68). The canvas is knotted in the corners, around the periphery, and sometimes in the center, then covered with monochrome paint. White, already prominent around the edges, now penetrates the form.

1967
For the exhibition “Peintures 1960 – 1967” [Paintings 1960-1967], at the Jean Fournier Gallery, Hantaï publishes a text, “Silences rétiniens” [Retinal Silences], in which he gives the generic title Peintures mariales to all four of the 1960-62 suites and introduces the formula, “Folding as Method.”
Participates in the exhibition “Dix ans d’art vivant (1955–1965)” [Ten years of Living Art (1955-1965)], at the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, where he is the first artist laureate.

1968 – 1969
Solo show at the Fondation Maeght.

1969
At the Jean Fournier Gallery, the exhibition “Pour Pierre Reverdy” [For Pierre Reverdy], features the Études [Studies], variations on a formal and chromatic theme : the canvas is crumpled more or less evenly, then covered with a single color (red, blue, green, purple or black). After unfolding, the nonpainted or “reserved” zones appear and interact with the painted zones across the canvas as a whole.

1970
“Etudes pour un mur” [Studies for a Wall], exhibition of very large-format canvases at ARC/Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Other exhibitions: “Art et architecture : bilan et problèmes du 1 %,” [Art and Architecture : Assessment and Problems of the 1%], Les Halles de Paris; “Un art subjectif” [A subjective Art], Abbaye de Beaulieu-en-Rouergue; and “Paintings, 1960 – 1970” Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York.

1971–72
Series of watercolours on canvas.

1972
Realizes a wall for the Maison de France in Jerusalem.
Blancs series [Whites], 1972–73 : the folding is conceived in such a way that the limited zones of color activate the white areas and reveal the multiplicity of its composite values. Here the colored fragments play the role usually attributed to the unpainted parts.
Paints the first Tabulas (1972–74). The title refers to the Latin word for “table” and also evokes his mother’s apron, or tablier. Knots are placed at regular intervals and the canvas covered with monochrome paint so as to produce, upon unfolding, a large number of smaller or larger squares or rectangles. The grid-like effect, which is counter-balanced by the irregular “starring” of the white at the intersections, underscores the interaction between ground, color and form.

1973
Hantaï retrospective at the Musée d’Art et d’Industrie in Saint-Etienne.
Publication of Geneviève Bonnefois’s Hantaï by the Abbaye de Beaulieu-en-Rouergue Centre for Contemporary Art in their “Artistes d’aujourd’hui” series.

1976
Jean-Michel Meurice makes the film, Simon Hantaï ou Les Silences rétiniens [Simon Hantaï or Retinal Silences]. Exhibition at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris.
Hantaï stops painting for three and a half years.

1979
Settles in Paris.

1980
Begins the second series of Tabulas (1980–82), which explore the relation between two tabular forms and their intervals at greatly increased dimensions.

1981
“Simon Hantaï 1960 – 76,” his exhibition at the CAPC / Entrepôt Lainé in Bordeaux, includes very large-format works.

1982
Represents France at the Venice Biennale with Tabulas 1974–1981.
Exhibition: “Tabulas lilas” [Lilac Tabulas], at Jean Fournier Gallery. All Tabulas are white on white.
Hantaï withdraws from exhibition.

1992
Publication of Anne Baldassari’s Simon Hantaï, by Éditions du Centre Georges-Pompidou in its “Jalons” series.

1998
Exhibition : “Laissées” et autre peintures [“Laissées” and Other Paintings] at Renn Espace, Paris. The Laissées [“Left-over” or “Remnant” paintings] are constituted of fragments cut from earlier works.
Exhibition : “Donation Simon Hantaï”, [Gift by Simon Hantaï] commemorating an important gift by the painter to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Exhibition of works by Hantaï from the collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne and other French public collections at the Musée d’Art Moderne, Céret.
Publication of Georges Didi-Huberman’s L’Étoilement. Conversation avec Hantaï, by Éditions de Minuit.

1999
Retrospective of works by Simon Hantaï from 1960 to 1995 at the Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster.

2000
Jacques Derrida’s Le Toucher, Jean-Luc Nancy, published by Éditions Galilée, contains illustrated responses to the text by Simon Hantaï.

2001
La Connaissance des textes. Lecture d’un manuscrit illisible (Correspondances) by Simon Hantaï, Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy, also published by Éditions Galilée. The book contains the correspondence among the three, together with Simon Hantaï’s illustrations in response to the texts of the two philosophers.
For the exhibition “Les Fables du Lieu” [Fables of place], curated by Georges Didi-Huberman at Le Fresnoy in Tourcoing, Hantaï makes digital prints on canvas called Suaires [Shrouds]. These are based on the Tabulas lilas exhibited in 1982.
Exhibition: “Simon Hantaï – Michel Parmentier,” Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris.
Hantaï’s work features in the exhibition “As Painting: Division and Displacement”, curated by Philip Armstrong, Laura Lisbon, and Stephen Melville at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

2004
Publication of Hélène Cixou’s Le Tablier de Simon Hantaï. Annagrammes, suivi de H.C., S.H. Lettres, Éditions Galilée, including letters in which Simon Hantaï describes his childhood in Hungary.

2005
Exhibition: “Simon Hantaï – François Rouan, conversation”, Jean Fournier Gallery, Paris.

2006
March : death of Jean Fournier. Major works by Hantaï are included in “La Couleur toujours recommencée. Hommage à Jean Fournier, marchand à Paris (1922 – 2006)” [Color, Continually Recommenced. Homage to Jean Fournier, Art Dealer in Paris (1922 – 2006)], an exhibition at the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, 2007.

2008
September : death of Simon Hantaï at his home in Paris.

2010
The Jean Fournier and Paul Kasmin galleries, in Paris and New York respectively, present a double exhibition of Hantaï’s work, curated by Molly Warnock.

2012
“Déplacer, déplier, découvrir” [Displace, Disclose, Discover], curated by Marc Donnadieu at LaM in Villeneuve d’Ascq, includes Hantaï’s Panses series, together with works by Martin, Jean Degottex, Marc Devade and Michel Parmentier.
A handsome Étude dating from 1969 is acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Publication of Molly Warnock’s “Penser la peinture: Simon Hantaï”, by Éditions Gallimard, collection “Art et artistes”, Paris.
Exhibition : “Panses, 1964-1965”, Jean Fournier Gallery, Paris.

2013
Simon Hantaï’s first posthumous retrospective is s heduled for the Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris.  The curators are Dominique Fourcade, Isabelle Monod-Fontaine and Alfred Pacquement.   
Simon Hantaï, Hans Hartung, Pierre Soulages, Antoni Tàpies, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Almost black and white, Jean Fournier Gallery, Paris

2014
Simon Hantaï, curator Eric de Chassey, Villa Medici, Roma, Italy
PLIAGE/FOLD, Gagosian Gallery, Paris
Outside the box, Jean Fournier Gallery, Paris
Simon Hantaï, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary
Plis, Sabine Puget Gallery, Château Barras, Fox-Amphoux, France
(im)matériel, Jean Fournier Gallery, Paris 

2015
Pliage: the first decade, Mnuchin Gallery, New York
Un regard sur la collection d'agnès b., LaM, Villeneuve d'Ascq
Regard sur quelques Tabulas, Jean Fournier Gallery, Paris
Bleu Jaune Rouge, la couleur libérée, Tessé Museum, Le Mans

2016
Daniel Buren, A tiger cannot change its stripes, Museum Cultuur Strombeek, Gent, Belgique
Timothy Taylor Gallery, London
Petits & grands tableaux en souvenir de Jean Fournier, Jean Fournier Gallery, Paris