François Morellet (b. 1926), La Défonce, painted steel, 1990
Produced as part of a public commission from the Ministry of Culture, this artwork is astonishing in its brutality, summed up humorously in its title in the form of a play on words: La Défonce. It shows a metal bar, like a stake, piercing through the building housing the treasures of the National Fund for Contemporary Art. It destabilises the viewer's gaze, seeming to rock the high towers of La Défense. Yet, from this artwork emerges an elegance, a purity, an energy.
It is composed of a set of seven painted steel bars, 25 m long, 70 m wide and 3.3 m high at most, which make up a simple rectangular shape, inclined and half buried in the ground.
François Morellet, a French artist born in 1926 in Cholet, seeks to remove all traces of subjectivity from his artwork. His abstract works seem to depend only on combinatorial "systems". Lines and curves, in order to multiply, obey the artist's "mathematical decisions" or the randomness of lists of numbers such as, for example, the decimals of Pi or the numbers in a telephone directory. François Morellet thus aims to reduce the meaning of the artwork to a minimum until it borders on the absurd.
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