Yves Gaucher, painter, printmaker (b at Montréal 3 Jan 1934; d there 8 Sept 2000). From the early 1960s until his death one of Montréal's most important abstract artists, Gaucher made his initial mark as a printmaker.
Yves Gaucher, painter, printmaker (b at Montréal 3 Jan 1934; d there 8 Sept 2000). From the early 1960s until his death one of Montréal's most important abstract artists, Gaucher made his initial mark as a printmaker. The tenets of his future painting were first proposed in a suite of prints, En Hommage à Webern (1963), inspired by a Paris visit during which he realized that his artistic affinities were with New York and not Europe. Although his work developed parallel to American colour-field painting, he made formal choices closer in spirit to those of his Montréal contemporaries.
Gaucher's shapes and surfaces were anonymous and hard-edged, and he was challenged by "relational" composing - balancing off structural components (after 1973 coloured planes of unequal weight and energy) to achieve a taut surface equilibrium. His Grey on Grey paintings (1967-69), intended to be seen individually in terms of their line-based movement, and together as an environmental colour experience, constitute one of the remarkable achievements of abstract art.
To simplify considerably it could be said that Gaucher's subsequent problem was somehow to subsume the sum of the experiences of ensemble of the Greys within a single painting; and that he achieved this with a comparable amplitude and emotional range especially in the Pale Paintings that began to appear in 1988-89. Throughout he saw formal problems as metaphors for existential ones, and reconfirmed abstract painting's tradition of ethical and spiritual inquiry. Until his death, alongside his teaching responsibilities at Concordia University, Montréal, Gaucher exhibited new work regularly. In 1992 the Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto, offered a rare opportunity to see an ensemble installation of the Grey on Grey paintings.