To mark the donation of 5 major works by the Clarence Westbury Foundation and the Georges Noël estate, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is paying tribute to this French artist, who was born in Béziers in 1924 and died in Paris in 2010.
This exhibition is one of a series of tributes by the museum to artists working in France who have not been sufficiently shown. It follows presentations of the work of Bernard Dufour (2008), Jean Dupuy (2009), Claude Garache (2012), Pierre Henry (2013-2014) and Raymond Mason (2014).
This presentation within the permanent collection takes the viewer through a highly distinctive oeuvre with links to the avant-gardes. With restless strokes cutting into a dense mix of sand and pure pigment, Georges Noël works and reworks his surfaces, endlessly overlaying and eliminating in a return to the principle of the palimpsest. The tracks he leaves bring to mind both written script and mysterious shamanistic signs: all his life Noël sought inspiration in literature and the rites of archaic cultures.
A member of the Resistance during the war, then a draughtsman, he painted in isolation before moving to Paris in 1956. Represented by Galerie Paul Facchetti, he was marked by Informal Art and in particular the textures of Dubuffet, Brassaï and Fontana. In 1968 he moved to New York, where contact with Hard Edge and Minimalist artists led to a radically pared-down turn in his painting. Back in Paris fourteen years later, he returned, although in a more structured way, to his Informal explorations, which he also applied to sculpture.
A nomad at heart, he exhibited frequently in France – there were retrospectives at the Centre National des Arts Plastiques in 1985 and the Musée des Beaux-arts in Pau in 2007 – as well as in Europe and Japan.