The Trust has recently acquired a major work by the Hungarian/French artist Simon Hantaï. Blancs (1973) is the first work by Hantaï to enter a public collection in the UK. The work is a significant example of the artist’s pliage method. This involved folding, knotting, painting, and unfolding the canvas to develop an ‘automatic’ process of mark making. Large areas of empty canvas, synonymous with the Blancs series, are interrupted by vibrant areas of colour.
Hantaï moved to Paris from his native Hungary in 1948. There, he came under the influence of the Surrealists, but by the mid-1950s he had been introduced to the work of, among others, Jackson Pollock and turned away from surrealism. From the early 1960s, he developed his pliage technique and his work received critical acclaim. Such was its success and his ensuing popularity that Hantaï, at times reluctant to even display his work publicly, withdrew entirely from the art world in 1982. He never painted again. Only recently, following a 2013 retrospective at Centre Pompidou in Paris, has his work re-emerged in the public consciousness and discovered anew.