Charles Lapicque was a masterful artist of color whose signature style of broad brushstrokes in vivid hues pushed forward from the artistic movements before him and in turn inspired twentieth-century artists in France and beyond.
While his fellow artists struggled to find their way from under the shadow of their formidable predecessors, and from under the long shadow of World War II, Lapicque went deep into the mysteries of color, particularly red and blue. Based on his studies of optics and light, he found that red, orange, and yellow were colors that gave the perception of distance in a picture plane, and blue offered the sensation of something near, firmer, and in the foreground. This innovative approach to color challenged traditional figurative painting, where blue was the color of distant, far-reaching skies. His color theory, combined with his distinctive broad brushstrokes in interlocking lines, influenced artists such as Nicolas de Staël, André Lanskoy, Pierre Soulages, and Jean René Bazaine.
André Breton judged him one of the ten most important figures of Western art and Pierre Restany judged him one of the five masters of French painting.
Born in 1898 in eastern France, Lapicque like the rest of his family became a scientist in his early years and received his doctorate from the Sorbonne. His specialty was optical research, which would serve him well later as an artist with a particularly keen sensitivity to the play of light. Until the end, his artistic practice was informed by his interest in the precise study of color and his innovative experimentations with color perception and composition.
His first solo exhibition was at Gallery Jean Bucher in 1929; by 1937, he received a commission to create five large wall designs for the Palais de la Découvert in Paris, one of which won him the Medal of Honour from the 1937 Paris World Exhibition. In 1953, he received the Prix Raoul Dufy from the Venice Biennale. In 1960, he was awarded the Légion d’Honneur as Officier des Arts et des Lettres; in 1986, he was appointed Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur. Charles Lapicque died in Orsay, France, in 1988.
This exhibition will be presented by Art Cuéllar-Nathan and Didier Aaron Inc., first at the gallery of Didier Aaron, Inc. in New York from 20 September to 6 October 2018, and then at Art Cuéllar-Nathan in Zürich from 15 November to 13 December 2018.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a color catalog.