Frieze New York 2018

Whose Lines Are They Anyway? François Morellet Takes a Star Turn at Frieze

François Morellet, 19 lignes parallèles et 21 lignes parallèles avec 1 interférence, 1974.

COURTESY THE MAYOR GALLERY

Among the most subtle works at Frieze New York but also the most seismic—in a way that makes the ground seem to just barely quiver beneath your feet—is François Morellet’s 19 lignes parallèles et 21 lignes parallèles avec 1 interférence, an oil painting from 1974. It couldn’t be simpler, comprising just two series of thin lines, each a smidge offset at the center. But the effect of it is grand, especially in the midst of a fair for which such small, perception-bending pleasures are a less than top-of-mind priority.

François Morellet, Du vert à l’orange (5 trames de carrés réguliers pivotées sur le côté), 1971.

COURTESY THE MAYOR GALLERY

The work is one of several in a booth devoted exclusively to the late French artist, who died in 2016, by the Mayor Gallery (London) and Dan Galeria (São Paulo). There’s one work from the 1960s but all the rest are from the ‘70s—each the same size and priced the same at $375,000. John Austin, a director at Mayor Gallery, said that, while there hadn’t been much awareness of Morellet in the United States in the past, the situation has begun to change. Among the reasons are a strong survey show organized by the Dia Art Foundation in New York—one of the best exhibitions in Chelsea, up for one more month before closing June 2—and Manhattan gallery Lévy Gorvy recently taking up representation of the late artist’s work.

But there other suitable reasons for recognition in the States, including the artist’s friendship in the past with Ellsworth Kelly and a fun fact for fans of New York lore of yore: Morellet’s son Florent, it turns out, was the owner of the storied restaurant Florent, an old haunt on Ganvesvoort Street that was a favorite in the Meatpacking District for more than 20 years before serving its last devoted diners in 2008.

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