Exposition Art Blog: René Duvillier - Abstract art

René Duvillier - Abstract art

"Born in 1919, René Duvillier joins the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Paris in 1935. Duvillier however defines himself as autodidact stating that the only thing he got out of his time at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was “learning what not to do”. After five years of captivity in Ukraine and Poland during World War II a defining moment comes in 1952 when Duvillier meets the influential art critic Charles Estienne. Through Charles Estienne Duvillier meets Serge Poliakoff, Jean Degottex, Hans Hartung and Charles Lapicque and becomes part of the “Nouvelle Ecole de Paris” which under the guidance of the art critic Charles Estienne gathered painters from Surrealism and gestural or lyrical abstraction. In 1953 Duvillier exhibits together with Jean Degottex, Marcelle Loubchansky and Jean Messagier in the Galerie L’étolie scellée owned by the founding father of surrealism, André Breton. Also in 1953 Duvillier takes part in the exhibition “Younger European Painters” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

 Although close to Degottex, Hartung and Messagier, Duvillier was however independent. And if, his gestural painting may have affected Breton, in which he found a form of surrealist automatism, his lyricism is much more oriented towards the nature.
Despite the international recognition, Duvillier could nevertheless still be overwhelmed. It is the sea in Brittany that created “a terrible choc” for him when he was invited in 1954 by Charles Estienne on the wild coast of North Finistere. “I found the movement and the gesture there. Everything was moving, the waves, the shore, the sky, the birds. I was especially struck by the spectacle of the Breton horses, manes flowing in the wind, springing out of the foam. I also found the ancient Greek myth of the birth of the sea”.

 This experience gave inspiration for a series of polychrome works with the sea and seahorses as the theme.
Although the themes changed over the years in the work of Duvillier it was always about nature – from minimal movements of waves and air. From the seahorses in Argenton to planets and to whirlwinds, the world painted by René Duvillier connects the personal to the universal and the human to the cosmos. It was the man of the myth and the vertigo, between paradoxes and successive shocks, a generous, rigorous and instinctive humanist. “I am emotional and passionate, the painter said (…) I’m not looking for simplification, or a synthesis ; I am moving on all fronts, I have to keep my totality”. He faced the material and his imagination fed on life. His dynamic and gestural painting associates the almost monochrome to the brightest colors."(frenchartandvintage.dk)

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