Fondation Maeght: journey to the heart of abstraction with the collection of a Swiss patron

Fondation Maeght: journey to the heart of abstraction with the collection of a Swiss patron

It is truly a journey into the beating heart of abstraction offered until November 20 by the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. This unique place, rich in a collection of more than 13,000 works, opens its doors to 120 paintings from the collection of a Swiss patron, Jean-Claude Gandur. This contemporary art enthusiast is at the origin of the creation of the Gandur Foundation for Art based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Organized around nine thematic sections, the exhibition At the heart of abstraction shows the evolution of non-figurative art and its different trends, from the 1950s to the end of the 1980s. to name a few) Georges Mathieu, Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell, Victor Vasarely, Alexander Calder, Jean Tinguely, the Supports/Surfaces group, Pierre Soulages, Martin Barré, Simon Hantaï…

View of the exhibition At the heart of abstraction - Collection of the Fondation Gandur pour l'Art (Roland Michaud)

If the exhibition does not talk about the Second World War, it shows how much it upset the vision of men, especially European artists. Immediately after the conflict, many of them returned to France after going into exile in the United States. After these years of deprivation and violence, where the very notion of humanity has been called into question, everyone is thirsty for freedom.

It will push them to radically rethink painting, to question the material, the supports, the techniques, the gestures. For most artists, abstraction then offers an infinite field of creation, “far from a figurative art considered as misguided by totalitarian regimes” as Yan Schubert, curator of the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art and curator of the exhibition, recalls At the heart of abstraction.

View of the exhibition At the heart of abstraction - Collection of the Fondation Gandur pour l'Art (Roland Michaud)

The exhibition is therefore not interested in this immediate post-war period but in the following decades, from 1950 to 1980. Four decades during which abstraction took different forms, with multiple currents – other or informal art, tachisme, abstraction lyrical and gestural, abstract expressionism, geometric abstraction – and stylistic quarrels (a so-called “warm”, lyrical and gestural abstraction vs a “cold”, more geometric abstraction).

But whatever the style, the public turns out to be receptive even if, as Yan Schubert acknowledges, “it’s more difficult but also more direct and more emotional”. The curator thinks “always amazed by the public who arrives in front of a painting where nothing is recognized and finally it touches them because they can interpret the painting as they see fit”.

Exhibition curator Yan Schubert (left) and Jean-Claude Gandur, founding president of the Fondation Gandur pour l'Art during a visit to the exhibition

This exhibition is all the more interesting in that it allows the public to discover certain works that are rarely exhibited, in particular because of their size. “The generous dimensions of the walls of the Maeght Foundation allow us to exhibit very large formats by Sam Francis, Jean Paul Riopelle and Emilio Vedova” emphasizes Jean Claude Gandur, the founder and president of the Fondation Gandur pour l’art, who speaks of the Fondation Maeght as “from a magical place.

This art collector, entrepreneur (he acfounded in 1987 the Addax and Oryx Group, specialized in the energy sector) and philanthropist, born in Grasse in 1948 and raised in Egypt until the age of 12, started his collection in the 1980s. From 2000, he focused on post-1945 abstraction and the second school of Paris, with painters like Wols, De Staël, Mathieu, Hartung, Soulages. “I was lucky then to be one of the rare collectors to be interested in this period, that of my generation nevertheless. This allowed me to collect significant works. Little by little, I extended my interests to other movements and other schools”. Jean Claude Gandur is also considered one of the cfive or six greatest collectors of ancient art on the planet.

View of the exhibition At the heart of abstraction - Collection of the Fondation Gandur pour l'Art (Roland Michaud)

Its collection of abstract art from the second half of the 20th century focuses on French artists or artists who have worked in France. As Jean Claude Gandur points out, “many of them are also in the Maeght collection. Among the works of these artists, some have passed through the Maeght gallery while others have even been acquired from it”. This exhibition is therefore a kind of tribute to the work of the famous collector Aimé Maeght.

As for the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, created in 2010 in Geneva, its vocation is to make its collections of international stature accessible to the public. Recognized as being of public utility, it has collections that revolve around five distinct areas: archaeology, ethnology, fine arts, decorative arts and contemporary African and diaspora art.

At the heart of abstraction – Collection of the Gandur Foundation for Art, upto November 20, 2022 at the Maeght Foundation623 Chem. des Gardettes 06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence – Open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (July-August) and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (the rest of the year) – Prices: from 11 to 16 €

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