Michael Werner Gallery, London is pleased to present Gaston Chaissac, an exhibition of paintings, drawings, and collages by 20th century French artist Gaston Chaissac (b. 1910 in Avallon, France, d. 1964 in La Roche-sur-Yon, France). The first major, comprehensive exhibition of Chaissac’s work in the U.K., it spans the entire length of Chaissac’s career from late 1930s until his death in 1964.
Born into a French rural working-class family, Chaissac was an autodidact. In the late 1930s, his neighbors in Paris, the artists Otto Freundlich and Jeanne Kosnick-Kloss, convinced him to become an artist and promoted his career. A decade later, Jean Dubuffet championed his work as Art Brut only to later exclude him from the Art Brut collection, saying that Chaissac had become “an educated man, in touch with cultivated circles...more or less a professional artist.”
Chaissac lived remotely in the coastal town of Vendée and cited unconventional influences, including prehistoric art and the art of children. At the same time, he was also extremely aware of contemporary ideas of abstraction, Cubism, and Surrealism and incorporated them into his work. He kept in touch with established critics, artists, and writers through extensive letter writing. In 1947, he wrote to Picasso, “more than ever, I’m a Picasso in clogs, Picasso’s student, student by correspondence course.”
Chaissac earned a remarkable amount of international recognition during his lifetime with exhibitions across Europe and the U.S. Artists such as Georg Baselitz have cited him as an influence. Today his work is held in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne; Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Abbaye Sainte-Croix, Les Sables-d’Olonne; Espace Chaissac, Sainte-Florence, Vendée; amongst others.
Gaston Chaissac opens on 23 June with a private view on 22 June from 6-8pm and will remain on view through 13 September. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-colour catalogue.