François Morellet (born 1926, Cholet, Maine-et-Loire) is a contemporary French painter, sculptor and light artist. His early work prefigured Minimal art and Conceptual art, and he has played an important role in the development of geometrical abstract art.
After a short period of figurative/representational work, Morellet turned to abstraction in 1950 and he adopted a pictorial language of simple geometric forms: lines, squares and triangles assembled into two-dimensional compositions. In 1961, he was one of the founders of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV), with fellow artists Francisco Sobrino, Horatio Garcia-Rossi, Hugo DeMarco, Julio Le Parc, Jean-Pierre Yvaral (the son of Victor Vasarely) and Joël Stein, François Molnar and Vera Molnar (the last two left the group shortly after). Morellet began at this time to work with neon tube lighting.
Since the 1960s, Morellet has worked in various materials (fabric, tape, neon, walls...) and has investigated the use of the exhibition space in terms similar to artists of installation art and environmental art. He has gained an international reputation, especially in Germany and France, and his work has been commissioned for public and private collections in Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.S.A. One of his works is part of the permanent collection of the Centre for International Light Art (CILA) in Unna, Germany.
For Morellet, a work of art refers only to itself. His titles are generally sophisticated, show some word play, and describe the "constraints" or "rules" that he used to create them. Like other contemporary artists who use constraints and chance (or the aleatory) in their works (John Cage in music, the Oulipo group in literature), Morellet uses rules and constraints established in advance to guide the creation of his works, and he also allows chance to play a role in some of his compositions.
His rigorous use of geometry tends to create emotionally neutral work, and has placed him close to Minimal art and Conceptual art in his aims. He shares a particular affinity to the American artists Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella and Sol LeWitt.
- Series: Répartitions aléatoires ("Chance divisions") from the 1950s
- Répartition de 16 formes identiques - painted after his visit to the Alhambra of Grenada
- Series: Trames from the 1950s
- Series: Désintégrations architecturales ("Architectural disintegrations") from 1971
- Series: Géométrées from 1983
- Series: Défigurations from 1988
- Series: Déclinaisons de pi ("Versions of pi") from 1998
- Lejeunne, Denis. 2012. The Radical Use of Chance in 20th Century Art, Rodopi Press, Amsterdam, pp. 129-173
- Lemoine, Serge (2000). Art Concret (in French). Paris: Espace de l’Art Concret/Réunion des musées nationaux. ISBN 2-7118-4069-7.
- Kazimir Malevitch & François Morellet/ Carrément Texts by Bernard Marcadé, Jean-Claude Marcadé, François Morellet, Serge Lemoine, Editions Kamel Mennour, 2011.
- Carrément - Discrètement. Exhibition catalogue. Text by Christian Skimao. Montpellier, 2001.
- Lejeunne, Denis. 2012. The Radical Use of Chance in 20th Century Art, Rodopi Press, Amsterdam, pp. 129–173
- Lemoine, Serge. François Morellet. Waser Verlag: Zurich, 1986.
- Lemoine, Serge. François Morellet. Flammarion: Paris, 1996.
- Morellet. Exhibition catalogue. Essays by Dominique Bozo, Bernard Blistène, Catherine Millet, Rudi Oxenaar, Alain Coulange, Johannes Cladders; Interview with Christian Besson. Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1986.
- Morellet. Exhibition catalogue. Essays by Jean-François Groulier, Jacqueline Lichtenstein, Thomas McEvilley, Arnauld Pierre; Chronology by Stéphanie Jamet. Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume/Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris 2000.
- Morellet, François. Mais comment taire mes commentaires Collections: Ecrits d’artistes. École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1999.
- kamel mennour - François Morellet
- Projet à sticker, Cneai (National Center for Edition, Art and Images), Chatou
- François Morellet in American public collections on the French Sculpture Census website