Jean Miotte, French (1926 - 2016)

Jean Miotte, (b.1926) came of artistic age in the decade after World War II when non-figurative gestural abstraction was emerging on both sides of the Atlantic as the contemporary artistic language. The term, "L'Art Informel," was coined by the French critic, Michel Tapi, to connote "without form." The negation of traditional form, a radical break from established notions of order and composition, was particularly suited to a cultural environment born out of the circumstances of post war Europe where abuse of morals and fascist ideology had led to such horror and destruction.

While Informel is often regarded as the European equivalent of Abstract Expressionism, it is distinguished from its American counterpart, by a loss of faith in progress and the collective possibilities of an avant garde. Rather the artists who came to be grouped as Informel, Jean Miotte, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Emil Schumacher and Kazuo Shiraga among others, claimed an individual freedom embodied in the spontaneity of the gestural brushstroke. Miotte developed a vocabulary of bold, quasi-calligraphic markings whose vaulting, liquid jets and arcs of paint were at once suggestive of the body in motion while at the same time denying corporality. Of prime importance for Miotte was the aspiration for this gestural, abstract language to create a bridge between cultures, to break beyond national barriers of geography or expression to form a truly international language.

The power and transcultural appeal of this painting was soon seen in its international reception. Miotte was invited to exhibit throughout Europe, America, the near and far East long before the concept of globalization was current in artistic terms. But whereas globalization tends toward cultural uniformity, Miotte's work fostered individual dialogue within each culture.

While Miotte's work remains committed to the Utopian aspects of gestural abstraction, he has continued to grow, fighting the repetition of a signature style constantly pushing the boundaries and possibilities of the line, the gesture and the liquidity of paint.

Miotte’s artistic influences include performance, choreography, jazz music, and particularly ballet. In London in 1948 he did set design and saw the work of Balanchine, the Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and Margot Fonteyn. Being exposed to this variety of art was of profound inspiration to him; Miotte would experiment with gesture through painting and hone lyrical movement in his own art. Miotte’s lithe, inventive line echoes the living art of dance. Miotte experiments in media ranging from oil to acrylic, gouache, ink, etching, lithography, and collage. His use of black paint on a white or raw surface frequently recalls calligraphy; when color appears, it ranges from primaries to earthy tones. Critics say he is unique among the Informels because he continues to grow, fighting repetition, questioning himself and his form of expression. In the 1990s he began producing the canvases currently on display, the largest of his career.

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