Biography of François Morellet
François Morellet has enjoyed a long and illustrious career playing an instrumental role in the development of geometrical abstract art. Born in Cholet in France in 1926, he taught himself to paint after taking a painting tutor as young man. By 1950 he considered himself a fully-fledged abstract painter and held his first solo exhibition that same year at Galerie Creuze in Paris.
Morellet has always produced work that expanded the definition of what abstract art can be, reaching beyond the confines of the picture itself by configuring the picture as an endless structure. In 1961 he was one of the founding members of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) alongside Julio Le Parc and many others. Their playful and unsettling installations often demand active participation from the spectator. It was around this time that he began to work with neon tube lighting, its material properties of luminosity and the fact that it could be manufactured appealed to the artist. Around this time he began making investigations into installation art, using materials such as fabric and tape.
In the early 1970s Morellet became increasingly interested in architecture and space and was undertaking large-scale commissions for public spaces including the Centre culturel in Compiègne in the La Défense section of Paris. He believed a work of art should refer to itself and nothing else. Using word play to title his artworks, they often describe the rules he conforms to as he is producing them. With over 130 solo exhibitions around the world, his most prestigious retrospective so far was held at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2011, but he has also had major exhibitions in MoMA in New York and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
His work is featured in many of the most important collections around the world including the Tate in London, Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles. He died in 2016 aged 90 years of age in the town of his birth.