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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Gallery News / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Pierre Alechinsky (b. 1927): Faces

Boxes / Central Park / Critters / Drawings / Faces / Grandes Marges / Hors Texte
Labyrinths / Landscapes / Mark-Making / Screamers / Snakes / Transformations / Venice / Volcanoes
In the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Snake comes every twelve years. For Alechinsky, a founding member of COBRA (an acronym for the cities that contributed members to the group, Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam), the Year of the Snake can be an auspicious one. In 1977, also the Year of the Snake, Alechinsky was awarded the first Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting and executed one of the prints we are featuring, also called The Year of the Snake. In 1989, Alechinsky's Guggenheim retrospective which had been traveling in Europe for almost two years had finally come to its end, in 2001, we celebrated the Year of the Snake with a large show of Alechinsky's original prints and several drawings; in 2013, the Year of the Sanke will come again, but we have no intention of waiting until then. Only time will tellwhen, but time is whispering in our ears, why not in the fall of 2009 in a salute to Alechinsky's turning 81 (9x9, a number that probably has not significance whatsoever so far as Alechinsky is concerned). We are featuring lots of Alechinsky's favorite images: Central Park, snakes, volcanoes, gardens, dog-kings, smiling crocodiles and sea monsters, and people existing as best they can in a world that often seems to invite extreme emotional responses. (Sometimes you just want to scream!) Still, the central act of Alechinsky's art is the making of marks on a sheet of paper, on a canvas, on a copperplate, on a lithographic stone: for that is what distinguishes artists (visual or verbal) from destroyers.
The winner of the first Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting (1977) and the French Grand Prix National for painting in 1984, Alechinsky has been recognized in recent years as one of the most significant living artists. (The art market has also noticed his stature: one of his paintings sold at auction several years ago for over $2,000,000.)

Alechinsky was just barely out of his teens when he burst onto the art scene as one of the original members of the COBRA group, and over the years he has emerged as one of the most imaginative and witty artists of our times. Alechinsky fans are everywhere. John Russell, who in 1986-87 devoted three separate columns in The New York Times to Alechinsky, sees him as "a man of strange blameless passions. Decorated invoices, worthless stock certificates, obsolete air-force navigational charts and ancient hand-written archival materials spark his imagination. . . . He has a taste for nature’s upheavals." Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican novelist for whom "the garden is the center of the world," has described Alechinsky as a man who "paints gardens. . . . He knows that the history of gardens is the history of all of us. . . . Alechinsky . . . chooses any of the forked paths of the manicured gardens at Blois or Hampton Court and then transforms them, ferociously, into the savage gardens of the primitive mind, the original unity of dream and awareness, reason and imagination, desire and reality." Indeed, it may be that it is his dream of recovering that lost unity that makes him, as The Times called him, "a poet of entanglement, [who] resolutely turns the emphasis away from himself, preferring to act rather as historian and referee than as autobiographer. . . . His touch is light, his thought rapid, his view of the world as sharp as it is benign. There is no better companion, and not many who keep us so consistently amused and are so generous with their findings."

Alechinsky has had major retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art and The Guggenheim Museum in NY, The Museum of Arts, Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh (in 1977, the Year of the Snake), The Palais des Beaux-Arts and the Musées Royeaux des beaux Arts in Brussels, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Vile de Paris and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Boymans-von-Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Louisiana Museum in Humlebaek, and museums in Aalborg, Brême, Copenhagen, Darmstadt, Des Moines, Düsseldorf, Gordes, Hanover, Marseille, Metz, Mexico City, Munich, St. Paul de Vence, Toronto, and Zurich. Spaightwood Galleries has over 175 images by ALechinsky in inventory; in due time, we will post as many as we can on our web site; if you are looking for a particular images, however, please contact is to determine whether we have an impression available.

Selected Bibliography: General works: Daniel Abadie and Willy Van Den Bussche, Pierre Alechinsky (Ostend: PMMK, 2000); Pierre Alechinsky, Cent vingt dessins, donation de l'artiste (Brussels: Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels 1973); Pierre Alechinsky, Divers faits (Vevey: Musee Janisch, 2000); Pierre Alechinsky, Au Pays de l'encre (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1998), Pierre Alechinsky, Dotremont et Cobra-foret (Paris: Galilée, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, Drawings and Prints (Jerusalem: Musee d'Israel, 1970); Pierre Alechinsky, Hoirie Cobra (Caen: L'Échoppe, 1990); Pierre Alechinsky, Ideotraces (Paris: Editions Denoel, 1966); Pierre Alechinsky, Le bureau de titre (Paris: Fata Morgana, 1983); Pierre Alechinsky, Le test du titre: 6 planches et 61 titreurs d'elite (Paris: Yves Riviere editeur, 1974); Pierre Alechinsky, Margin and Center (NY: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1987); Pierre Alechinsky, New Work: Pains de terre émaillé, Flora Danica drawings, Revalorisations (NY: Andre Emmerich Gallery, 1991); Pierre Alechinsky, Notes sur Orsay (Caen: L'Échoppe, 1989); Pierre Alechinsky, Paintings and Writings (Pittsburgh: Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, 1977); Pierre Alechinsky, Pierre Alechinsky: Werke 1958-1968 (Düsseldorf. Kunstverein fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen, 1969); Pierre Alechinsky, Reponses a un questionnaire (Caen: L'Echoppe, 1987); Pierre Alechinsky, The Future of Property. Fourteen Specimens re-evaluated by Pierre Alechinsky (NY: Lefebre Gallery, 1970); Pierre Alechinsky and Georges Duby, Alechinsky (Zurich: Maeght Zurich, 1980); Pierre Alechinsky and Amos Kenan, Les Tireurs de Langue (Paris: Yves Riviere editeur, 1974); Pierre Alechinsky, and Karel Appel, Two-brush paintings. Their Poems by Hugo Claus. Foreward by Christian Dotrement (Paris: Yves Riviere editeur, 1980); Karel Appel & Pierre Alechinsky, Encres a deux pinceaux (Paris: Yves Riviere editeur, 1978); Alain Bosquet, Alechinsky (Paris: Le musee de poche 1971); Jacques Busse, Pierre Alechinsky (Chicago: Arts Club Of Chicago, 1965); Pierre Descargues, Alechinsky Bouches et Grilles (Paris: Galerie Maeght Lelong 1986); Christian Dotrement et al., Appel et Alechinsky: Encres à deux pinceaux, peintures, etc. (Saint Paul De Vence: Fondation Maeght, 1982); Georges Duby, Alechinsky (Zurich: Maeght Zurich 1980); Jacques Dupin, Alechinsky: Laves Emaillees (Paris: Galerie Lelong, 1988); Petit journal: Made in France 1947-1997 (Paris: Centre Pompidous, 1997); Jacques Putnam, Alechinsky (Paris: Celiv, 1990); Alain Robbe-Grillet, Pierre Daix et al., Pierre Alechinsky (Valencia: IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, 2000); Alain Robbe-Grillet, John Yau, Daniel Abadie and Pierre Daix, Pierre Alechinsky (Paris: Jeu de Paume, 1998); Michel Sicard, Alechinsky Sur Rhone (Paris: Galerie Lelong, 1990); Michel Sicard, ed., Pierre Alechinsky: Extraits pour traits (Paris: Galilée, 1989); Giorgio Soavi, Alechinsky: XXXVI Biennale de Venise, Pavillon Belge (Venice: Venice Biennale, 1972).

Prints: Pierre Alechinsky, Alechinsky a l'imprimerie: 150 estampes (Paris: le Musee national d'art moderne, 1975, 1977); Pierre Alechinsky, Alechinsky (Rome: Edizioni 2RC, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, Aux petits soins (Paris: Atelier Clot, 1989); Pierre Alechinsky, Ces robes qui m'evoquaient Venise (Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, L'avenir de la propriéte (Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1992); Pierre Alechinsky, Communication: 16 Manifestations d'Hypertrophie Calligraphique. (Vouvière, Belgique: Editions du Daily-Bul, 1967); Pierre Alechinsky et al., The Complete Books: A Reasonable Catalogue (Antwerpen: Ceuleers & Van de Velde, 2002); Pierre Alechinsky and Michel Butor, Le Chien Roi (Paris: Daniel Lelong Editeur, 1984); Franck Bordas et al, Les Impressions de Pierre Alechinsky (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, 2005); Michel Butor et Michel Sicard, Pierre Alechinsky: Frontières et Bordures (Paris: Galilée, 1984); Michel Butor et Michel Sicard, Alechinsky: Travaux d'Impression (Paris: Editions Galilée, 1992); Rainer Michael Mason et al, Pierre Alechinsky: Noir sur blanc (Geneva: Caninet des Estampes du Musee D'Art et D'Histoire, 1998); Yves Riviere, Pierre Alechinsky: Les estampes de 1946 a 1972 (Paris: Yves Riviere editeur, 1973).
Aux petit soins. Original etching, 1989. 90 signed and numbered impressions on antique laid paper. There are also xx artist's proofs and xx HC impressions. Image size: 193x147mm. Price: $2750.
Chapeau d'ecriture (GL 25, 1990). Original color etching, 1987. 75 signed & numbered impressions. Image size: 150x131mm. Price: $2500.
Escalier / Man on a staircase. Ink drawing and collage on aged letter paper, 1986. The rust-colored blon\b below the mustache is the original wax seal that insured the letter's privacy until it was opened by the recipient. Image size: 260x210mm. Price: $25,000.
Conseiler Aulique. Original color lithograph, 1980. 100 signed and numbered impressions. Image size: 220x180mm. Price: $1250.
Just like that (A. 206) Original color lithograph, 1963 120 signed & numbered impressions plus 3000 unsigned impressions for an exhibition catalogue. This drawingwas reproduced on the cover of a work on interpretation of literary texts, Resistant Structures: Particularity, Radicalism, and Renaissance Texts by Richard Strier, published by the University of California Press in 1995. Image size: 190x185mm. Price: $750.
Dame Taride (GL 1991, n. 18). Original color lithograph & etching, 1989. 99 signed & numbered impressions on Arches. Image size: 380x562mm. Price: $4250.
Article suivi. Original color etching on handmade paper, 1978. 75 signed and numbered impressions. Image size: 570x760mm. Price: $4500.
Serpent of Bimini. Original color etching, c. 1975. 75 signed & numbered impressions on Japon paper (very rich surfaces with lots of long silky fibers). Both a portrait of his father and a self-portrait, this pieces displays Alechinsky's characteristic mixture of chaos and order. A beautiful impression. Image size: 398x497mm. Price: $4500 .

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