LAPICQUE Charles, “Ostie”
Oil on canvas, 1957
Dated and Signed lower middle, countersigned, titled and dated on the back.
Bernard Balanci, "Lapicque, catalog raisonné of painted work and sculpture", Editions Mayer, Paris, 1972, this original work is to be compared to the series of paintings dedicated to Ostia in 1957, illustrated with numbers 363 to 366.
CHARLES LAPICQUE (1898-1988)
Born in 1898 in Theizé (Rhône) in a family practicing both the arts and the sciences, Charles Lapicque is no exception to the rule: gifted for music and drawing, he graduated from the École Centrale in 1921, works as engineer until 1928 before integrating in 1931 a laboratory at the Faculty of Sciences of Paris, where he carried out research on the perception of colors, crowned by the title of Doctor of Physical Sciences in 1938. He thus studies the reactions of the eye in front of an intense light source, at the origin of the formation of starry images which he will use in his works, and defines a theory of the staggering of colors in space which overturns the rules of the Renaissance: "I had shown that the classic rule, that of Vinci, advocating placing the blues in the distance, the reds, oranges and yellows in the foreground, is
a nonsense; it makes more sense, more favorable to do the opposite. "(In Red and blue in the arts, 1936)
It was around 1920 that Charles Lapicque began to paint in Brittany where he spent every summer since his childhood, first on the motif and then in a workshop that his stepfather Jean Perrin, Nobel Prize in Physics, had him build in 1927 ; he then definitively adopted the work of memory, in accordance with the art of music which he deeply loved and the Bergsonian philosophy of knowledge: "It is up to us to give reality an appearance that it has no itself, a form, a figure (...). "
His youthful production immediately reveals a great originality, oscillating between figuration and abstraction which sometimes intertwine: alongside synthetist paintings by their simplified drawing and their flat colors, he designs a Homage to Palestrina (1925 ), composed of a grid derived from Cubism, entirely abstract, relayed by a Christ with Thorns (1939), according to a principle that he will develop after 1939, in line with his optical discoveries. In fact, during the war years, an almost abstract period began, that of the tight blue framework, applied to backgrounds ranging from yellow to red and revealing a more or less identifiable world (Jeanne d'Arc crossing the Loire, 1940; Rencontres series, 1940-1945). Exhibited in 1929 by the gallery owner Jeanne Bucher, Lapicque abandoned his scientific career in 1943 to devote himself entirely to painting.
He continued his work which resulted in 1946-1953 in white-frame structures; their much softer lines lead him to the system of
either black or white interlacing which encloses areas of pure color, most often in solid color. With The Battle of Waterloo in 1949, Lapicque still uses optics - zooming in on a given area - to depict spaces with multiple perspectives and decomposed times.
This new interest in the liveliness of color developed in the following period, which can be described as flamboyant or baroque (1954-1963): illustrated in particular by the series of Breton lagoons and twilight or nocturnal views of Venice in the light. stars - which the artist himself describes as “daring sweets” -, it begins with the Raoul Dufy Prize of the Venice Biennale, awarded in 1953 to the artist who took the opportunity to give free rein to his passion for the Serenissima until July 1956.
Another point in common with his elder brother is the expression of movement. Begun in 1949 in The Battle of Waterloo then in 1952 with Dimanche aux regates, it became an obsession from 1964, in the exploration of new themes, such as the different shots of tennis players captured on the fly (1965), the mythological scenes and sea storms.
These dizzying years precede the artist's last period: as he comes of age, he discovers serenity, revealed by a painting now with acrylic paint, much more peaceful from 1974, which even borders on a childish naivety at the end. of his life.
All of his work includes an astonishing diversity of themes, also nourished by his travels (Rome in 1957, Greece in 1964, Holland in 1974 ...), with a predilection for the sea, rocks, sailboats, music, tennis, horses, wild beasts, but also for history and mythology, as evidenced by knights, kings and ancient gods. It also deploys, in total creative freedom, a wide variety of styles and orientations. Having been one of the pioneers of non-figurative art, thus paving the way for artists like Manessier, Bazaine, Vieira da Silva, De Staël, etc. - Owners of the new non-figurative Paris School of the post-war period - Charles Lapicque then returned to figuration, in a "new interpretation" of appearance, even if he continued to rub shoulders with abstraction at times.
"Drawing runs after color and color after drawing. "
Heir to the Fauves, Charles Lapicque plays like them on pure colors, whose dissonances, associated with a totally free design and an overloaded composition in a multiple space, make him a precursor of the New Figuration in all its forms: the Narrative Figuration born in France in the early 1960s, represented in particular by Gérard Fromanger, Erró, Bernard Rancillac and Gérard Guyomard; Free Figuration born in the early 1980s, marked by Robert Combas, Hervé and Richard Di Rosa, Louis Jammes and François Boisrond, and which, in turn, influenced the American Bad Painting of a Jean-Michel Basquiat or a Keith Haring, deliberately neglected and expressionist; Lapicque's “classic subjects” were able to feed Cultivated Painting, which also appeared in the early 1980s with Jean-Michel Alberola, Patrice Giorda and Gérard Garouste, while the violence of its color foreshadows the New Fauves
German and Austrian like Georg Baselitz and A.R. Penck. And it also seems obvious the influence of Lapicque's black interlacing on Jean-Michel Atlan's African entities, like the way opened by the Lapicquian white frameworks in the Jean Dubuffet's Hourloupe cycle, which appeared in 1962.
His works are now preserved in a number of French public collections, notably at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Dijon (Granville donation) but also in Besançon, Grenoble and Nantes, as well as in Europe (Brussels, Copenhagen, Essen, Munich, Stuttgart) and in North America (New York, Ottawa, Toronto).