Sans titre (Untitled)

Henri Michaux

Namur, Belgium, 1899 - Paris, France, 1984
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Ink and watercolour on paper
  • Dimensions: 
    Support: 46 x 30 cm
  • Category: 
    Work on paper, Drawing
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

Belgian Henri Michaux’s radicalness stemmed from a background coloured by the existential and phenomenological schools of thought evolving in post-war Paris. Michaux was a poet and painter, whose references included early Surrealism, inspired by “Les champs magnétiques” by Philippe Soupault and André Breton and Joan Miró’s painting. Michaux was also a researcher of non-western cultures, primitive art and the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, and developed a way of looking at the consciousness of existence and the flow of time. Distancing himself from the meaning of words and letting his hand movements flow freely in the style of Surrealist automatism, he produced strokes in his works that he saw either as rhythms, signs and ideograms or, as in this case, blot works that seems to show visions of reality, human figures or faces. Michaux uses watercolour to get a fast, focused, intense execution, which during the Sixties evolved towards abstraction, reiterating the expressions of mental states that he had analysed and described in his writings. His reaction to painting’s attempt to provide some kind of response to the dead-end of that historical period was to use new tools such as the invention of styles of calligraphy, investigation of the formless and the redefinition of the representation of the human body. Michaux was an independent artist and his work was not connected to any movement or group; as such it helps redefine the paradigm of European abstraction immediately after the war.