Michel Seuphor, Untitled, 1990, Silkscreen on cloth, 157 × 140 cm, Edition of 50
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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  • Silkscreen on cloth
  • 157 × 140 cm
    (61 ¾ × 55 ⅛ inches)
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  • The naturalized Frenchman Ferdinand Louis Berekelaers—better known by the pseudonym Michel Seuphor, an anagram of Orpheus—was a Belgian-born art critic, historian, painter, and poet. His artistic and critical contributions as an advocate of abstract art made him a leading reference for the artistic literature of his time. He founded the modernist literary magazine Het Overzicht, publishing a total of twenty-four issues between 1921 and 1925. Later settling in Paris, in 1929, he co-founded—together with Joaquín Torres García—the Cercle et Carré movement, bringing together artists from different backgrounds who shared a substantial adherence to abstract-concrete research. More than eighty artists would join the movement, including Jean (Hans) Arp and Sophie Taeuber, Wassily Kandinsky, Le Corbusier, Enrico Prampolini, and Luigi Russolo, to name a few. Together, the group launched an eponymous magazine and organized the landmark exhibition at Galerie 23 in Paris, featuring more than one hundred abstract works. In particular, the Neoplastic De Stijl experiments of Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, both participants in the group, were significant influences on the movement. Seuphor’s high esteem for Mondrian’s work would lead him to publish the artist’s first monograph, Piet Mondrian, Life and Work, as early as 1956 and to supervise the retrospective Mondrian at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris in 1959. During his career, Seuphor worked on several exhibitions devoted to abstract art, publishing exceptional catalogs that are considered today essential sources for understanding and historicizing this visual expression. Examples include the volumes L’Art abstrait, ses origines, ses premiers maîtres (Maeght Editeur, 1949) and the Dictionnaire de la peinture abstraite (Fernand Hazan, 1957), as well as the five-volume collection L’art abstrait, published in 1971. Parallel to his work as a critic, Seuphor produced autograph lacunary ink drawings marked by compositions of abstract geometries and narrow horizontal lines. The production of these pieces, initially in black and white, intensified around the 1950s, gradually incorporating different colors and looser forms. The editions produced with Francesco Conz in 1990 reflect this facet of Seuphor’s overture. In addition to the success of his publications, Seuphor’s works are also included in major collections and have been the focus of comprehensive retrospectives at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (1977), the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague (1977), and the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz (1997), as well as the most recent exhibition at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (2022).

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