Edgard
Pillet
(1912-1996)
Artist

Edgard Pillet was one of the most progressive artists of post-war Paris, internationally acclaimed for pioneering a new style of geometric abstraction. He is also respected for his literary contributions to the polemic for abstract art, not least as the Secretary General of the leading avant-garde journal Art Aujourd’hui, which was central to the cause. In 1950 he further championed the aesthetic revolution by founding with Jean Dewasne the extremely influential  Atelier d’Art Abstrait on the premises of the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. In 1951 Pillet again demonstrated how far ahead of his time he was when he produced an abstract film Genesis [View clip here], a thirteen minute film in which the “actors are straight lines, squares, rectangles and circles”; and in 1954 he published a set of short stories called “ideograms” which took the form of an album of screen-printed geometrical compositions, each “story” has a beginning and an end, acted out by forms and colours.

 

The present work titled “Tardiflore”, is an exquisite example of Pillet’s most important period, painted in 1953, his winning entry for the Prix de la Critique that year. The work encompasses everything that Pillet’s style strove to achieve. The perfect fusion of regular form with the colour that exceeds the two dimensional surface to create a picture space of limitless dimensions, transcending visual appearances and evoking a new  dimension and a new vision of the world. Pillet belongs to the group of artists for whom chromatic richness signifies not a riotous display of colour but concentrated harmonies, instilled with power and intensity. Hence the fact that even at his soberest, Pillet’s colour has a peculiar fascination; even when reduce to the juxtaposition of flat hues, it always retains an intensity and subtlety which seem to rekindle reminiscences of some irretrievable tonal harmony.

 

Pillet held many successful solo exhibitions in Europe, including Denise René, Arnaud, Paris; Drian, London; Artek in Helsinki; del Março, Lisbon; Apollo, Brussels; Hybler, Copenhagen; K.B., Oslo; del Fiore, Milan; LAFA, New York; aswell as taking part in the Salons de Mai, and Salons des Réalites Nouvelles, and several important international group shows including at National Museum of Modern Art, Rome; Cincinatti Art Museum; and the Museum of Modern Art, São Paolo; aswell as Washinigton, Tokyo, Saigon, Bangkok, Djakarta, Algiers. From 1955-57 he lived in America and spent much time discussing his theories with american abstract artists and significantly Jackson Pollock. He took up a position at the Art Institute of Chicago, and held several exhibitions, before returning to France in 1957. Pillet continued to exhibit internationally throughout his career.

 

Prizes: Prix Abd-El-Tiff, 1939; Prix de la Jeune Sculpture, Paris, 1948; Prix de la Critique, Brussels, 1953.


The artist is represented in the following Museums of Modern Art: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne, Paris; Musée de Peinture et de Sculpture, Grenoble; Musée Ateneum, Helsinki; Finland Museum, Imatra; National Museum, Algiers; National Museum, Djakarta; Museum of Modern Art, Eilat; Museum of Modern Art, New York.