Art Gallery of Alberta

The Serge Guilbaut Lecture

Jean Fautrier: The Colour of Horror with Professor Serge Guilbaut

Saturday, April 14, 2 pm
Ledcor Theatre, Art Gallery of Alberta
$15/$10 AGA Members
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This talk addresses an ambiguous series of now famous images produced by Jean Fautrier in 1943, the “Otages”. In opposition to previous readings of those images, I will try to show that Fautrier, in this series and in other works, is attempting – in the face of the almost impossible task of representing the violence of the holocaust – to save modernism from collapsing. Those pictures, far from articulating the impossibility of representation and before the collapse of a powerful tradition, are actually produced in order to rebuild the modernist monument. This complex reconstruction takes into account the new post-Auschwitz conditions in order to articulate – through that artist’s own personal sexual fantasies – new ways to present contemporary issues through a renewed modernist language. A comparison with the work of his contemporary and friend Wols will, it is intended, make this point clear.

Serge Guilbaut is a professor of art history at the University of British Columbia. He has written extensively on modern and contemporary art, in particular post-World War II cultural relations between France and the United States. His books include How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art: Abstract Expressionism, Freedom, and the Cold War (1983), Voir,Ne Pas VoirFaut Voir (1993) and Sobre la desaparicion de ciertas obras de arte (1995). As editor, his credits include Modernism and Modernity (1983), Reconstructing Modernism (1990), and Voices of Fire: Art, Rage, Power, and the State (1996).