L'arbre vert (The Green Tree)

Jean Fautrier

Paris, France, 1898 - Châtenay-Malabry, France, 1964
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Mixed media on paper glued to hessian
  • Dimensions: 
    53,5 x 64 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

Jean Fautrier began with realist-style works, later developing a painting style where treatment of matter was central, now seen as a precursor to “Art Autre”, as French critic Michel Tapié baptised the movement. After the experience of the war laid the foundations for a radical change in the definition of the avant-garde, this ‘art of another kind’ questioned traditional representation, calling for a new field of experimentation in painting. Against this new background, iconic language was rejected in favour of the material, the tactile and the mark left by the human body, with echoes both of images of barbarism and of ideas from philosophical and literary existentialism. Jean Fautrier captures the anguish of war – which he himself had witnessed during the German occupation of Paris – in an opaque, material-steeped work of undeniable physical presence, the core of which is the density of what he termed its “built-up surfaces”. Dull chromatism combines with crude references to body shapes and elements of nature identified with them (the silhouette simultaneously forms the tree referred to in the title and a naked human bust). Fautrier presents an image that deliberately frustrates the expectations of the viewer, caught in the dichotomy between the declaration of a theme and the impossibility of its complete, recognisable representation.