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 Martin Barre  (1924 - 1993)

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Lived/Active: France/United States      Known for: minimalist abstract painting

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Martin Barre
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An artist who used spray paint and colors squeezed directly from paint tubes, Martin Barre was from France where he was born in Nantes.  Living and working in Paris, he is considered the precursor of minimal art in France.  His oeuvre is exceptionally varied and always dominated by the necessity of reduction and purification and the desire to eradicate the arbitrariness typical of the "abstraction lyrique" (lyrical abstraction).

In the mid Fifties Martin Barre reacted radically to the theatrical "gestualisme" and subjectivist pretence of the Jeune Ecole de Paris and embraced the purest forms of abstract painters such as Kasimer Malevich and Piet Mondrian.

In the early 1960s Barre focused his attention on achieving an impersonal gesture and the highest possible "reduction-concentration".  In 1963 he suppressed intermediary devices such as the brush, the knife and the paint tube by starting to use the bombe aereosol (spray can).  In 1967 he worked on a series of paintings called "Les Flêches" in which a large Kraft paper with a cut-out of an arrow was blindly interposed between the artist and the canvas.  In both series the artist endeavours the reduction of the pictorial mark and focuses on the impersonal act of painting.

Solo exhibitions include: ARC, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro; Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo. Group exhibitions include: Paris Biennale, Paris; Tel Aviv Art Museum, Tel Aviv; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Venice Biennale (1964 and 1978); Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Sao Paulo Biennale, Sao Paulo.

He died of cancer in 1993 at age 68.  He first attracted attention to his work when he was 30 and had an exhibition at Realites Nouvelles, an avant-garde gallery.  Later he exhibited at the Salon des Comparisons.

Sutton Lane:
Obituary, The New York Times, July 13, 1993

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