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James Guitet
  • Artist (1925 - 2010)

James Guitet belongs to the second generation of lyrical abstractionists, whose works began exerting a strong influence on the architectural scene in Paris from about 1955. After his early phase marked by geometric abstraction, he quickly focused his research on the effects of materials, utilizing a technique based on casein, which he developed into woody textures whose thickness he contrasted with blocks of colors. These two characteristic elements of his visual vocabulary are varied in austere highly architectural compositions. An abstract “landscape,” his painting grasps nature by capturing its energies. In the 1970s be began a period of theoretical analyses and research in the field of the visual arts during which he experimented with new formats and challenged the traditional function of a key structural element constituting a painting, i.e., the frame. Through the art of engraving, Guitet also became interested in the book, creating his first hollowed and sculpted White Books, in which his fascination with volume and architecture are again manifested. In fact, he joined the GIAP (Groupe International d’Architecture Prospective) when Michel Ragon founded it in 1965. He developed a project for a dwelling under a biological dome, then his project for coastal urbanism, while still continuing to paint and exhibit. Since 1979, he has been pursuing his research in the arts of engraving and painting, and his work has evolved towards a sensitive asceticism. Guitet also did a series of paintings on the fold, in homage to Gilles Deleuze and the history of painting. Here, the fold becomes a dynamic rhythm in infinite space, generating “derivative forces,” eddies of light and shadow.

The painter and engraver James Guitet was born in 1925 in Nantes, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts from 1942 to 1947 and then at the Académie Jaudon in Paris. He began participating in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in 1953. In 1954, he exhibited his work for the first time at the Arnaud Gallery in Paris. Numerous shows followed in this gallery, then in Nantes, Rennes, Tourcoing, as well as Canada and several other European countries. His works have been widely collected by museums in France and abroad. Guitet won the David Bright Prize for graphic arts at the 1962 Venice Biennale, then the Engraving Prize at the 1965 Ljubljana Biennale. James Guitet also taught fashion design and the history of costume at the École des Beaux-Arts in Angers, as well as drawing in Versailles and at the Sorbonne.

Nadine Labedade