François Morellet

François Morellet,Annely Juda

François Morellet (1926 – 2016) developed a radical approach to geometric abstraction; from the first works characterised by the optical and kinetic activation of surfaces and spaces – to the installation works incorporating the plastic interference of electric neon tubing, steel, and iron – Morellet aimed to simultaneously deconstruct and reconstruct the abstract language in an open dialogue between systems and randomness.

The early system works were characterised by the use only of square panels, with lines drawn across them according to proper mathematical fractions but by the 1970s Morellet also introduced the possibilities of random numbers to create elements such as diagonals and colour.  Also from 1963, neon had become a central material in Morellet’s work.  What interested him in neon tubing was its specific material properties: its luminosity, the way it could be made to shut on and off automatically and that it was a manufactured, industrial material.  Referring to both Morellet’s strict adherence to systems and his unorthodox use of artificial light to minimise expressions of his own individuality, Jonathan Watkins in his text for the exhibition catalogue, notes that “Morellet was a positivist, much preferring the no-nonsense of science to the air of mystery that wafts around art..  In 1966 he (Morellet) wrote about light sources as “plastic material” “Only habit and traditions have prevented the direct sources of artificial light (bulbs, neon tubes) from taking up their rightful place in the artistic canon”.

Later, by the mid 1980s, in counterbalance to the strict dogma so often associated with minimalism and abstraction, Morellet began to use wordplay in his titles rather than the previously prescriptive mathematical formulas, indicating a natural sense of humour and irreverence. For example, the large-scale neon installation Sous-Prématisme no.1, no.2, no.3, of 2010 refers directly to the work of Kasimir Malevich – whose strict brand of Constructivism or ‘Suprematism’ made a significant impression on Morellet but which he ultimately found overly “serious”.  In subsequent works other self-imposed rules were also relaxed including his breakaway from the square and the limitations of the vertical/horizontal.

Duration 07 March 2024 - 04 May 2024
Times Monday - Friday 10am - 6pm Saturdays 11am - 5pm
Cost Free
Venue Annely Juda Fine Art
Address 4th Floor 23 Dering Street, London, W1S 1AW
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