T his season, Sotheby’s is proud to present at auction m.c.7, one of the most powerful and mysterious works Simon Hantaï has ever created.
Hantai tried many artistic approaches from his arrival in Paris at the beginning of the 50s to his discovery of folding at the beginning of the 60s. He drew inspiration from the Italian primitives before looking towards Surrealism, the dynamic abstraction of Georges Mathieu, and Jackson Pollock.
In 1958-59, the years he made Peinture (Écriture rose) and A Galla Placidia, Hantaï definitively parted from his contemporaries and started his own revolution. These two paintings were simultaneously executed, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, and used letters and signs that refer to religious and philosophical texts from the spiritual environment of the time. Through them, Hantaï emancipated his style and became more radical.
His "folding method" epiphany took shape the following year with the dazzling Mariales, and developed up until 1982 with eight successive series corresponding to eight different processes.
The Mariales series consists of 27 paintings organised into four groups: 8 m.a., 6 m.b., 9 m.c. and 4 m.d. 7 of these works are already in museum collections. The a series corresponds to frequently folded canvases; the b series to monochromes; the d series to previously splattered painting; and the c series – which includes the present work – to paintings previously splattered with black paint and folded twice, which created bigger flat tints of color that strikingly echo the negative space. M.c.7 holds a unique place in its series, as the folding process of large overlapping canvas portions here reached perfection, and the the positive and negative spaces interact wildly.
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