Francois Morellet French, b. 1926
François Morellet was born in 1926, in Cholet, France, and is internationally recognised as a leading pioneer in Geometrical Abstraction and Concrete Art. As a multi-media artist, he is known for his intricate geometric paintings, sculptures and light installations.
Morellet’s began painting at the age of 14 with no formal training. Initially he worked on figurative portraits with a characteristically dark palette, however, in 1950 he travelled to Brazil where he became heavily influenced by Concrete-Constructivism and Neo-Plasticism. Morellet quickly abandoned figuration and turned his attention towards abstraction.
In 1952 he met Joël Stein who introduced him to the work of Marcel Duchamp and Piet Mondrian. It was then that Morellet embraced the practice of geometric abstraction and discovered that, through the use of set mathematical rules, he was able to configure the picture field as an infinite structure extending beyond its limited confines.
In 1961, Morellet became a founding member of the experimental artist collective, Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel, which aimed to create interactive and multi-sensory installations using non-traditional materials. As Morellet’s interest in space, optics and movement grew, he began experimenting with neon lights. This led him to explore kineticism in his installations, creating vibrant optical effects by using mechanical timings that triggered specific lighting rhythms for each neon tube. By 1968, Morellet was working on site-specific projects and his geometric sculptures expanded into architectural structures, some of which boasted dense compositions of individual neon lights suspended in the air. These installations were received with critical acclaim both in Europe and the US.
Morellet received his first solo museum exhibition in 1971 at the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands. Since then he has had two major retrospectives at the Centre Pompidou, one in 1986 and more recently in 2011. His works can be found in major public collections worldwide including in the MoMa, the Seoul Museum of Art and the Tate. Morellet is one of only three contemporary artists to have a permanent installation at the Louvre Paris.
In 2016 Morellet died at his home in Cholet, at the age of 90.