Magazine article Artforum International

Simon Hantai: Mnuchin Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Simon Hantai: Mnuchin Gallery

Article excerpt

Simon Hantai

MNUCHIN GALLERY

This posthumous solo show, Simon Hantai's first at Mnuchin Gallery, offered a clear indication of the Hungarian-born French painter's growing status in New York. Cocurated by Alfred Pacquement--the former Musee National d'Art Moderne director who previously helped organize the artist's 2013 retrospective at the Centre Pompidou--and uniting fourteen large-format paintings, the exhibition tracked Hantai's production in the crucial years 1960-71, when he developed his signature practice of pliage: painting variously crumpled or knotted canvases and then subsequently unfolding and stretching them for exhibition. The show therefore had to reckon with one of the signal features of Hantai's first mature decade: that it is structured by two related yet importantly distinct breakthroughs.

The ground-floor rooms focused on the first of these turning points: Hantai's initial turn to pliage procedures, as manifest in five paintings from the years 1960-65. Any presentation of the inaugural series, the "Mariales," 1960-62, must now rely substantially on loans, and this installation, remarkably, included three such works from private hands. These emphatically physical, allover canvases represented all but one of four alphabetically denoted subseries, thus providing some sense of the visual diversity inherent in this openly exploratory body of work. We see Hanta'i trying out--or folding together, as it were--seminal paradigms and techniques of twentieth-century art, from the monochrome in Mariale m.b. 2, 1960-61, to the collage effects, Pollockian dripping, and post-painterly staining visible in Mariale m.c. 7 and Mariale m.d. 4, both 1962. Yet even as the artist grappled with historical instances of pictorial invention, the organic, burnt-sienna tones of m.d. 4 in particular appear keyed (in ways he would soon reject) to the larger imperative of bringing the canvas "down to earth"--that is, to the newly horizontal axis of the folding process. (In a somewhat different but related mood, the azurite-malachite flashes of the slightly earlier m.c. 7 suggest a kind of geode, a seemingly banal thing whose once-concealed cavities contain unsuspected brilliance.) Complementing this presentation, two additional paintings showed Hanta'i attempting to move on from his opening achievements, as they also underscored the question at the heart of later suites: how best to handle the white or blank areas of revealed support that had begun to surface in the later "Mariales. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.