Born in Bia, Hungary 1922
Died in Paris, France 2008
“In this distressing and all-pervading noise of cow-bells into which today's art increasingly settles— at last the sounding of a gong! In turn the hammer hits... the infallible rhythm announcing true creation; it is Simon Hantaï.” – André Breton, 1953
Simon Hantaï is best known for his large, abstract canvases of profound, saturated color. Hantaï moved to France in 1949 and quickly became known throughout Europe. Informed by Jackson Pollock’s gestural abstractions, Hantaï embarked on a new method of painting that would redefine the role of the artist and restructure the approach to the picture plane. In the early 1960s, Hantaï began applying paint to folded canvasses, using a systematic pliage or ‘folding method’ that resulted in irregular patterns of bold color, punctuated by strips of unprimed ground once the canvasses were unfolded and stretched. Throughout the rest of his career, Hantaï devoted himself to developing new techniques that congealed the painterly gesture—an idea that finds strong resonance with Surrealism, Pollock’s Expressionism and Matisse’s cut-outs.
In 1976, the Centre Georges Pompidou mounted a survey exhibition of Hantaï’s work, and in 1982 Hantaï represented France in the 40th Venice Biennale. In 2013, the Centre Georges Pompidou held a critically acclaimed retrospective of Hantaï’s work. Hantaï work is included in the permanent collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.