The French painter, sculptor and light artist François Morellet has died, aged 90.
In 1960, he co-founded the activist collective of kinetic and optical art Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (Grav) with Julio Le Parc and others. Its manifesto called for “provocation” and “visual aggression”, activating spectators through works and performances harnessing the properties of light.
Industrially-produced neon tubes served as Morellet’s material of choice for six decades, but his sculptures and light installations have only gained commercial and international recognition relatively recently.
In France, Morellet is considered among the most important artists of his generation, receiving a major retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2011. The year before, he became the second living artist to create a permanent commission for the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Morellet redesigned the bay windows and oculi of the venerable museum’s Lefuel staircase to let in new light.
Morellet’s works have drawn comparisons to US Minimalists such as Sol LeWitt and Dan Flavin and are represented in public collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Nationalgalerie in Berlin and the Centre Pompidou. His early canvases currently hang alongside works by his friend, the late Ellsworth Kelly, in a dedicated collection gallery at the Paris institution. Exhibitions marking his 90th birthday opened last month in London at the Mayor Gallery and Annely Fine Art and at Dan Galeria in Sao Paulo.
- François Morellet, L'Avalanche, 1996