Known for his folded canvas paintings, Simon Hantaï is an advocate for the consideration of canvas as a material unto itself. Briefly associated with André Breton’s circle of Surrealists in the early 1950s, Hantaï broke from the group and from figuration in 1955 to pursue gestural abstractions. His key breakthrough came in 1960 with his pliage paintings, which both drew on automatism and presented the canvas as a material rather than a flat plane. The works involved the artist folding or knotting his canvas before painting large blocks of color on them; he would then unfold them to see what patterns emerged. He continued to produce these works through the 1980s, but he withdrew from the art world after representing France in the 1982 Venice Biennale. He briefly reemerged for a 1998 exhibition of his collages.