Cover image for Simon Hantaï and the Reserves of Painting By Molly Warnock

Simon Hantaï and the Reserves of Painting

Molly Warnock

COMING IN MAY

$89.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-08502-9
Coming in May

280 pages
9" × 9.5"
41 color/89 b&w illustrations
2020

Refiguring Modernism

Simon Hantaï and the Reserves of Painting

Molly Warnock

“Warnock’s monograph makes a signature contribution to the study of Hantaï’s body of work and to the wider history of modernism. She explicates the fundamental theoretical and practical concerns of an understudied artist whose work, while important, is not well known to a broad audience. Without a doubt, her scholarship provides the most sophisticated art historical analysis of Hantaï’s thought and practice to date.”

 

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The Hungarian-born French painter Simon Hantaï (1922–2008) is best known for abstract, large-format works produced using pliage: the painting of a crumpled, gathered, or systematically pleated canvas that the artist then unfolds and stretches for exhibition. In her study of this profoundly influential artist, Molly Warnock presents a persuasive historical account of his work, his impact on a younger generation of French artists, and the genesis and development of the practice of pliage over time.

Simon Hantaï and the Reserves of Painting covers the entirety of Hantaï’s expansive oeuvre, from his first aborted experiments with folding around 1950 to his post-pliage experiments with digital scanning and printing. Throughout, Warnock analyzes the artist’s relentlessly searching studio practice in light of his no less profound engagement with developments in philosophy, psychoanalysis, and critical theory. Engaging both Hantaï’s art and writing to support her argument and paying particular attention to his sustained interrogation of religious painting in the West, Warnock shows how Hantaï’s work evinces a complicated mixture of intentionality and contingency. Appendixes provide English translations of two major texts by the artist, “A Plantaneous Demolition” and “Notes, Deliberately Confounding, Accelerating, and the Like for a ‘Reactionary,’ Non-Reducible Avant-Garde.”

Original and insightful, this important new book is a central reference for the life, art, and theories of one of the most significant and exciting artists of the twentieth century. It will appeal to art historians and students of modernism, especially those interested in the history of abstraction, materiality and Surrealism, automatism, and theology and making.

“Warnock’s monograph makes a signature contribution to the study of Hantaï’s body of work and to the wider history of modernism. She explicates the fundamental theoretical and practical concerns of an understudied artist whose work, while important, is not well known to a broad audience. Without a doubt, her scholarship provides the most sophisticated art historical analysis of Hantaï’s thought and practice to date.”
“With this book we finally have a beautifully written, deeply researched and comprehensive account of one of postwar Europe's most significant artists. Far from the cliché of Simon Hantaï and his folded (‘pliage’) paintings as detached and impersonal, Molly Warnock reveals the artist’s full investment in a ‘deep context’ of ideas, historical issues, and major artistic movements: from surrealism to minimalism via abstract expressionism; traversing the terrain of the Catholic liturgy, philosophies of community and phenomenology, and questions of writing and legibility; while never forgetting the techniques and fundaments of the practice of painting.”

Molly Warnock is Assistant Professor of History of Art at Johns Hopkins University and author of Penser la peinture: Simon Hantaï.