Pierre Alechinsky (Belgian, b.1927) is a founding member of the CoBrA art movement. Known early on in his career for his skills as a draughtsman, Alechinsky studied as an illustrator and typographer at the National School of Architecture and Decorative Arts in Paris from 1944 to 1946. While in Paris, Alechinsky met the poet and artist Christian Dotremont (Belgian, 1922–1979), and shortly after their meeting, the two formed the CoBrA artistic group together with fellow artists Karel Appel (Dutch, 1921–2006) and Asger Jorn (Danish, 1914–1973). The name “CoBrA” was derived from the members’ hometowns: Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam; the group was formed on the basic principle of the freedom of color and form in art.

After moving to Japan in 1955 to study calligraphy, Alechinsky’s art became increasingly influenced by Asian traditions and techniques, as he adopted a calligraphic style and used India ink frequently in his work. Many of his works also feature borders or friezes of varying thicknesses, which allowed him to limit excessive color and detail to the edges of his works, focusing instead on the quality of line in the center of his paintings. His imagery includes beasts and biomorphic forms, and he works in a flexible painting style that embraces flaws and accidents in the final composition. Often, he creates works on used paper, infusing his paintings with the quality of a found object; as an artist, Alechinsky is always receptive to chance meetings and unexpected associations. From 1983–1987, he worked as a professor in Paris, and in 1994, Alechinsky was awarded an honorary doctor’s degree from the University in Brussels. Alechinsky today lives and works in Paris, France.

Timeline

1927
Born in Brussels, Belgium
1944–1948
Studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et des Arts Decoratifs, Brussels, Belgium
1949
Associated with the newly formed CoBrA Movement
1977
Recipient, Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting
1984
Recipient, French Grand Prix National for Painting
1984–1987
Professor at the French National School of Fine Arts, Paris, France
Lives and works in France

Exhibitions

2010
Alechinsky: les Ateliers du Midi, Musée Granet, Aix en Provence, France (solo)
2009
Pierre Alechinsky: Ronds, Peintures 2008-2009, Galerie Lelong, Paris, France (solo)
2008
60 Jahre COBRA, DIE GALERIE, Frankfurt, Germany
Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (solo)
2007
Pierre Alechinsky: Terrils, Galerie Lelong, Paris, France (solo)
2006
Entre Cobra et l'abstraction, Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles, Paris, France
2004
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
2002
Baukunst Galerie, Cologne, Germany
1998
Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (solo)
1987
Retrospective, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (solo)
1981
Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
1978
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
1977
Retrospective, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA (solo)
1965
L’Ecart Absolu, Tenth International Surrealist, Paris, France
Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL (solo)
1960
XXX Venice Biennale, Venice , Italy
1958
Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK (solo)
1955
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (solo)
1954
Nina Dausset, Paris, France (solo)

Public Collections

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tate Gallery, London, UK
Royal Museums of Fine Arts , Belgium, Brussels
Musee Jenisch, Vevey, Switzerland
Haifa Museum, Haifa, Israel

Literature

1998
Bonnefoy, Françoise and Sarah Clément. Alechinsky. Paris: Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, 1998