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Considerations on Jean Fautrier’s Paintings and their Literary Context


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In the 20th century, paintings were created as a result of essentially free and subjective activities of individuals. During the transition to modernism, numerous works emerged, painted on the basis of greater subjectivity and more innovative ideas for art. These ideas resulted in a more uniquely subjective and abstracted creativity. In the case of Jean Fautrier, although his early works were based on realism, he also transformed and altered his style of expression, and finally adopted a method of ‘impasto.’After World War Two, a more eccentric abstraction, painting without any form or style, emerged. The resulting works were the products of more arbitrary and independent intentions of painters as individuals. At the same time, it is certainly true that modern art after the 1950s has been criticized in many respects. As abstract modern art diverged from tradition and from the conservative creativity of western painting, art without form became a target for traditional criticism. Jean Fautrier’s sequence of works, Otage, was an early example of what Michel Tapié named Art Informel. The motif is clearly the threat of violence by Nazism and the victims of that violence; Fautrier’s expression is quite impressive and understandable as a product of historical disaster. Inhuman cruelty, deformed in the medium of thick oil painting, claimed a literary context which is inherent in the paintings. However, the essence of the works is possible only when expression is consistent with the literary context. Extreme deformation by Fautrier is clearly a product of the literary predicament which he experienced during the war. Fautrier’s trial is regarded as pre-Art Informel, inherited in the trend of abstractionism. Such an idea for abstractionism, different from that of W. Kandinsky or P. Klee, transformed traditional ideas of art into a more indecipherable form and deformed the individual’s concept. This study intends to examine the essence of Fautrier’s works and clarify the literary context behind his art, from the basis of criticism of modern art.



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