A major representative of geometric abstraction, Geneviève Claisse was born in 1935 in Quiévy, a small village near Cateau-Cambrésis. She discovered geometric abstraction by reading various art magazines such as “Art d’Aujourd’hui,” which praised certain avant-garde pictorial currents.
The artist, fascinated by Herbin’s theoretical writings, was as-yet unaware of the relationship between them. At the age of 18, she met her great-uncle at Cateau-Cambrésis. Herbin discovered her work and encouraged her to persevere along this path.
Geneviève Claisse first exhibited in 1958 in Paris and Cambrai. The following year, she moved to Paris and became her great-uncle’s assistant, whilst continuing her artistic research. She shared his studio for a year.
In 1960, Claisse took part in the Salon de Mai and in 1961, she became one of the artists represented by the Galerie Denise René. The gallery owner, recognised as a visionary, regularly presented Geneviève Claisse’s work in her spaces (Paris and New York), and in international art salons.
The artist exhibited in Copenhagen, London, Paris, Tel Aviv…
The 60s were rich in creation, especially 1966, when several serial compositions on the theme of circles and triangles appeared in parallel in her sketchbooks. These series of landmark works would be explored until the following decade. Extraordinary paintings were exhibited at major collective events in solo exhibitions around the world.
In 1971, Geneviève Claisse opened a second studio in Ecluzelles. In the 1970s, she took part in the Salon de Mai and exhibited in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Basel, etc.
This period is marked by a return to rectilinear shapes, especially in the fabulous DNA canvases, where squares are the target of the intelligent colorimetry work previously implemented in circles.
Research on lines took form in works executed in the second half of the 1970s and early 1980s. The artist devoted several years to this very methodical work, where lines of different thicknesses run parallel, meet, diverge, draw close, forming a series of paintings which can be associated with a form of kineticism.
The artist retained this linear research in her work, but with some nuances in the thickness and arrangement.
In 1982, the Matisse Museum of Cateau-Cambrésis devoted an exhibition room to Geneviève Claisse’s work.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the artist exhibited in Brussels, Milan, Paris, Rome, Zurich…
Her research evolved. The lines thickened, generating small coloured bars that were arranged on the substrate without ever reaching its edges.
The end of the 1990s was marked by a very interesting series about the association of two feelings: transparency and fullness.
The first feeling evokes emptiness, whereas the second, developed on the basis of the first, evokes plenitude.
Perfectly connected, these works inject considerable movement, depth and dynamism into the white space of the canvas.
During the 2000s, the artist revealed the extent of her ability to develop her previous research, with a rigorous approach and unequalled application.
Her works are composed of rectilinear forms, symmetrical or dissimilar squares evolving in a set of horizontal or vertical lines, sometimes reminiscent of Malevich’s Suprematism.
The stability of Geneviève Claisse’s work is unique. There are no imbalances. The colour is flawless.
Geneviève Claisse died in Dreux in 2018.