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YVES GAUCHER, O.C., A.R.C.A. (1934-2000)

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Galerie Alan Klinkhoff
Yves Gaucher
PPL-1-JL-68, 1968
Acrylic on canvas 36" x 48" (Sold)
Detailed view
"Music and poetry had more influence on me than painting. Especially the music of Webern. I wanted to do in engraving what he had done in music: elaborate a visual rhythm with counter rhythms created by the striking effect of colour." (Yves Gaucher as quoted by the National Gallery of Canada)

Originally known as a printmaker, Yves Gaucher enjoyed early success. He attended l’École des beaux-arts in Montreal from 1954 to 1956, and a year later returned to study printmaking under Albert Dumouchel. Quite a successful printmaker, Gaucher participated and won prizes in international print exhibitions before his acclaim as a unique abstract painter. In 1957, Gaucher had his first solo exhibition at Galerie l’échange in Montreal. In 1960, he founded l’Associations des Peintures-Gravures de Montréal.

In the early 1960s, Yves Gaucher moved away from printmaking and rediscovered Modernists such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. Two particular events shaped Gaucher’s artistic career as the Plasticien painter he is known as today. During a visit to a Mark Rothko retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Gaucher was deeply stirred by what he encountered. It is during this period, which included a trip to Paris in 1962, that Gaucher realized that he was more of a French-speaking North American than French and his work more closely resembled contemporary New York art than European art. He began to use a single straight line in his oeuvres and took an interest in geometry, where he used his known "signals" including horizontal lines, squares, gashes with the intention of making the eye move from one point to the other to create a unique experience for the observer. Critic Françoise de Repentigny astutely described how Gaucher ‘communicates with a transcendental art, the result of an
ascetic process…(The Plasticiens and Beyond, p. 87).

In 1962, Gaucher became fascinated with Anton Webern’s music, so far as to influence his work, and pay tribute to the artist by creating a piece "En Hommage à Webern no. 2". Gaucher created his first important paintings as a result of this inspirational rush, namely "Danses carrées" in 1964. He married Germaine Chaussé the same year. It is also in 1964 and 1965 that Gaucher dedicated his time exclusively to painting.

Gaucher began his series of Grey on Grey paintings in December 1967. Recognized as his finest work, the Grey on Grey works evoke calm and reflectiveness and as James Campbell describes, "requires looking hard" (Campbell, p57). Gaucher’s series are meant to be carefully and thoroughly examined and require intense concentration which allows each painting to come alive and reveal its secrets to the observer. Indeed, he himself described the Grey on Grey paintings as non-entities or non-objects and maintained that details came forth with analysis. He executed over 60 Grey on Grey over a period of two years, until 1969.

Gaucher later explored mathematical and spatial relationships and in 1970 painted broad horizontal stripes in bright colours, also known as colour band painting. The Dark Paintings of 1980s and Pale Paintings period followed, one in which Gaucher experienced a renewal in his work.

In the 1960s the original work of Gaucher and his Plasticiens colleagues, including Guido Molinari and Claude Tousignant, as well as his "post-plasticiens" painters like Charles Gagnon and Jean McEwen, are in the opinions of several experts at the very least as advances as anything being done at that time in New York or Paris.

Gaucher also taught at Concordia University at the end of his artistic career and was appointed to the Order of Canada.

Copyright Galerie Alan Klinkhoff, 2014


James D. Campbell, "The Asymmetric Vision: Philosophical Intuition and Original Experience in
the Art of Yves Gaucher", Mackenzie Art Gallery: Regina, 1989.
Roald Nasgaard and Michel Martin, "The Plasticiens and Beyond: Montreal, 1955-1970", Varley
Art Gallery of Markham and Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec.
National Gallery of Canada, Yves Gaucher, retrieved from
The Canadian Encyclopedia, Yves Gaucher retrieved from http://
Roald Nasgaard, "Abstract Painting in Canada", Douglas & McIntyre: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia,
Yves Gaucher paintings sold
  Yves Gaucher - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
Yves Gaucher
Danse carrée: Once Upon a Square, November, 1964 - January, 1965
Acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (Sold)
Detailed view
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