PARIS - At the ripe age of 89, François Morellet continues to dazzle us with his visionary spirit. His prolific output earned him the admiration of many American Minimal artists, who followed closely on his heels. The work we are presenting on 2 June dates from 1952 and stands as one of his first important, representative pieces. Here, completely uninfluenced by any kind of movement, Morellet produced a geometric composition foreshadowing minimalism, stripped of all lyricism, in the radical line of Malevich and Mondrian. The work has a compact format (60 by 60 cm.), and is based on two colours: a network of fine navy blue lines is deployed on a background of deep, warm red, rather like a page from a school exercise book or an embryonic score awaiting a melody. The intersection of these lines gives the work its kinetic feel, because these orthogonal forms (at least, they seem orthogonal) have an unsettling lack of balance – a mischievous "je-ne-sais-quoi" typical of Morellet – which destabilises the retina.
François Morellet’s 2 trames de lignes perpendiculaires,1952. Estimate €120,000–180,000 / $130,000–195,000.
This rare picture would be completely at home in a museum. The artist painted it in the privacy of his long-standing studio in Cholet, far from the mimicry of Paris and New York, illustrating a genuinely original approach driven by an impulse of pure creation. This liberated work, a true forerunner, marvellously illustrates the inspired work of one of the greatest creators of the latter half of the 20th century.