Edward Thorp Gallery is pleased to present two exhibitions, a selection of seldom seen
works from the late 1940’s to the early 80’s by Henri Michaux. This show continues the
gallery’s long-standing relationship with the works of Michaux having previously
mounted a major survey of the artist in 1984, with a featured article in Art in America
March 1985 by Carter Ratcliff.
“Group Show: Paintings and Drawings” will include drawings and paintings by gallery
and gallery-affiliated artists. Among the artists to be included are Matt Blackwell, Sarah
Gamble, Clare Grill, David Scher, and Judy Simonian.
Henri Michaux was both a poet and a self-taught painter, he viewed drawing as
liberation from words: a new language, rejecting the verbal. He was born in the Belgian
town of Namur in 1899, studied in his formative years at a Jesuit school in Brussels. He
began then abandoned the study of medicine. He started writing in earnest in 1922, soon
becoming known in literary circles. His acquaintance with Paul Klee, Max Ernst, and
Giorgio de Chirico, whom he met in Paris in 1925, inspired him to make his first
painting and drawing. From 1927 to 1937 he traveled extensively abroad, visiting South
America, Turkey, China and India; this experience was a powerful influence on his
work. The early combinations of poetry and drawing led him to form his own
ideograms of expression; this synthesis would be central to Michaux’s work. In 1937
Michaux had his first one-man show at the Librairie-Galerie de la Pléiade followed by
important shows abroad. He experimented with frottage from 1945 to 1947, and
immediately after the accidental death of his wife in 1948 he produced several hundred
visionary ink and watercolor works. By the mid 1950s, Michaux had returned to his
earlier use of ideograms in a series of India ink drawings, through which he became
closely associated with Art informel. Michaux began experimenting with hallucinatory
drugs, particularly with mescaline, executing meticulous ‘all-over’ compositions;
detailed depictions of minute forms, organic shapes and repeating patterns. In 1955
Michaux took French citizenship. During the 1960s he continued to use India ink,
watercolor and pastel; some works of this period suggest figurative elements. He
introduced more color into his work in the 1970s with the introduction of acrylics.
Michaux continued to work until his death in Paris in 1984 at the age of 85.
He exhibited at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in December 1957 and a
retrospective exhibition in Frankfurt/Main in March 1959, works at the "Documenta" in
Kassel in 1959 and 1964; he was awarded the Einaudi-Prize at the Biennale in Venice in
1960. In 1965 he won the National Prize of Literature, which he refused to accept. The
Centre Pompidou, Museum of Modern Art in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum in
New York both had major shows of his work in 1978. A traveling museum show was
mounted in Japan in 1983 and an exhibition “Untitled Passages” took place at the
Drawing Center in New York in 2000.