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Hommage(s) to Matisse


Some hundred well known or not previously shown works disclose the universe of one of the Supports/Surfaces group founding members

Claude Viallat Untitled (parasol), 1978
Acrylic resin on fabric Diameter 180 cm Collection Henriette Viallat © A.D.A.G.P.Photograph:Pierre Schwartz



A museum of the Département of Nord
Palais Fenélon 59360 Le Cateau-Cambrésis


Tel. 33 (0)3 27 84 64 50
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E mail: museematisse@cg59.fr
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Free: under 18, 1st Sunday each month and Journées du Patrimoine
Guided tours Groups: 80 € adults, 50 € schools(+ entry reduced price)


Dominique Szymusiak, Emilie Ovaere


Observatoire - Véronique Janneau
Hélène Dalifard Tel.(33) 01 43 54 87 71
Fax (33) 01 43 25 14 23 -
E mail helene@observatoire.fr
Site: www.observatoire.fr

The Musée Matisse retrospective exhibition dedicated to Claude Viallat offers a hundred of the artist’s works, both well known and more recent one - coming from the artist’s workshop, private collections and various museums - from the first canvases to the more recent monumental works which use a wide range of supports, as well as drawings inspired by the universe of bullfighting and illustrated books.

Another look

These works were not created to be a tribute. The figure of Matisse, present during the making but unconsciously so, is revealed by a title given a posteriori. The permanent influence of Matisse emerges clearly. Yet this is not a constraining factor but rather one of the sources, enriching the artist’s view of his world. Claude Viallat tackles the issues of the decorative, abstraction, the use of colour and space. Coming as he did from Nîmes, he was influenced like Matisse by southern light. He manipulates pure colours, his contrasts can be said to be almost violent, motifs are dissonant, while succeeding in reaching a surprising harmony.

Around Matisse

The exhibition is laid out chronologically and defines the various periods of Claude Viallat’s life. The first oils on wood: semi-figurative, they were made during his military service, and inspired by Matisse’s Danse. The Wave painted in 1952, was the starting point for the artist’s first abstract works on frames in the years 60-65. In 1976, Viallat defined his abstract language - after debates with others in the Supports/Surfaces group of which he was a founding member. It is the year when the series of French Windows was started, inspired by Fenêtre à Tahiti and French window at Collioure by Matisse. Around Interior with Aubergines, Viallat made a series of works on large market-sellers’awnings.

The diversity of supports
In his later works, Viallat uses the structure of the support to build space. "Matisse’s ideas are present in my work but with a difference. I do not observe reality. He created theatres with fabrics. I leave the reality of my support, its original colour, its materials". The exhibition shows the extreme diversity of materials he used: parasols, curtains, lace, embroidery, market traders’ awnings and boats' nets, joined up supports, tent materials... The fabric is not dyed, or glossy: the artist makes use of its natural characteristics. Each part of the fabric functions both individually and in relation to its adjoining piece.

The exhibition is also the occasion to present some figurative drawings and small gouaches in bright colours of spontaneous characters on bullfighting scenes. Drawn from memory after the event, they enable Viallat to escape the abstract system which he has imposed upon himself for the rest of his work. He also illustrated many books which made it possible for him to approach smaller, more limited formats. Seeing the work of Viallat in relation to that of Matisse or through his passion for bullfighting, enables us to widen the range for possible readings of them and to try to apprehend his universe in a more intimate manner.
Illustration: Claude Viallat Untitled 1998 Acrylic on cloth 30x30cm Artist's studio ADAGP 2005 Photo Pierre Schwartz


Exhibition catalogue Texts by Dominique Szymusiak, Emilie Ovaere, Bernard Ceysson, Yves Michaud,.Claire Viallat, 22 x 30 cm.,104 pages, ill. col. Editions Snoeck, Gand 35 €