Recent work

The quest for color



Born in Paris, 1927 an only child, his father dies shortly after and his mother sends him to live with an elderly aunt in Maisons-Laffitte.

1940s » Pictorial Approaches ( 1944–1952)

World War 11, the occupation and a period of hardships. He undertakes a year–long course in drawing. At the age of seventeen, Claude Bellegarde illustrates Le serpent d’étoiles by Jean Giono, to whom he sends his drawings. Giono replies, asking Bellegarde to visit him.

1944–1945: Discovers craftmanship and the art of meditation with philosopher, poet, artist Lanza del Vasto, Western disciple of Gandhi and founder of La Communauté de l’Arche commune in southern France. Initiation in sculpture with Henri Martin. Joins a group dedicated to the teaching of the great Russian mystic Gurdjieff, led by Vera Daumal. Attends conferences in Paris given by Krishnamurti and is greatly impressed by his clarity of thought, his refusual to be a guru and his belief in the revelation of the moment.

1947–1948: Spends several months in the Alpes as a trainee with the French skiing team, as a farm hand and itinerant puppeteer. A year of military service follows as an alpine tracker with the occupying army in Austria . He develops a fascination for white.

1950s » Achromaticism / White period (1953–1957) Chromatic Magnetism (1958–1964)

A period of intense experimentation begins. Diverse employement alternating with first experiments in painting: abstract, lyrical, gestual abstraction. Exhibits for the first time in at the Salon d’Octobre, 1952. Ill with tuberculosis he enters a santirorium in Switzerland where he is able to paint freely. Bellegarde returns to Paris. Without resources he is helped by Père Gilles Vallée and exibits for the first time at the Centre Saint-Jacques, Paris 1952 and frequents painters such as Manessier, Poliakoff, Laubiès, Tal Coat, and Fautrier.

1953–1954: Bellegarde begins his White Period (1953–57), a series of textured monochrome abstract paintings. He joins the avant–garde group Dessins, Paris 1954.  First one-man-show at the left bank Galerie Arnaud, also publisher of the art magazine Cimaise and participates in a group show at the Museum of Modern Art in Dusseldorf.  Studio in the Rue Daguerre

1955–1957: A second solo show held at the Galerie Facchetti, is championed by the art critic Pierre Restany, author of the catalog preface Bellegarde et l’espace intérieur and the 1956 monograph L’espace profondeur, Claude Bellegarde, éditions Kamer. Paul Pacchetti organizes the exhibition Significants de l’informel which features the work of Fautrier, Mathieu, Dubuffet, Riopelle, Michaux and Bellegarde. The Musée des Beaux Arts de Lille aquires the 1955 painting Temps C – sans titre, 1955.  Exhibits at Galeria Apollinaire in Milan where Lucio Fontana purchases a White painting.  Exhibits for the first time in America at the Long Wharf Gallery in Boston, 1956 and in Japan at the Tokyo Museum of of Modern Art in 1957.

1958–1959: Bellegarde reintroduces color in his painting folllowing a visit to Morroco in 1958, where he is impressed by the ambient light, the landscape and the artisan tradition of using pure color in textiles. Using of bands of colour and exploring their semantic significance. Inspired by the rich coloration of nature, in which man is an intergral part of the ecosystem, he experiments with various substrates and materials

1959: Marcel Brion presents a selection of Bellegarde’s work at the Galeria Apollinaire, Milan. Also, 1959 marks the beginning of a long–time collaboration with Galerie Andre Scholler, Paris where he exhibits with artists championed by the gallery Fautrier, Messagier, Sam Francis, Tal Coat. The same year Bellegarde is awarded the Prix Lissonne, Milan and the Tate Gallery , London aquires the 1957 painting Temps F – The Bird.
In 1960, in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Julien Alvard presents a show called Antagonisme. Bellegarde exhibits a painting dating from 1957, measuring two by three meters.

Solo exhibitions: Galerie Arnaud, Paris; Galerie Paul Facchetti, Paris; Long Wharf Studio, Boston; Gallerie Apollinaire, Milan; Galerie Vertiko, Bonn; Galerie Dupont, Lille; Galerie Kamer, Paris; Drian Gallery, London; Galerie Zodiaque, Brussels; Galleria Apollinaire, Milan; Galerie A. Schoeller, Paris; Galleria La Ruota, Parma; Galerie Formes Contemporaines, Lille; Galerie J, Paris; Galerie A. Schoeller, Paris; Galerie Blumenthal, Paris.

1960s » Typograms (1963–1966) Psycolor Cubicle (1964–1970) Human Nature (1967–1976)

Bellegarde paints his first Typograms (abstract psychological portraits represented by the choice of colors and forms which characterize an individual) composed of vivid contrasting patches of pure, saturated colour. He experiments with the psycho–physiological qualities of color and presents the results of his reflections in a manifesto For a Symbolism of Color

1961–1964: Bellegarde is for the second time laureate of the Prix Lissonne in 1961.
Jacques Lassaigne presents Bellegarde first typograms of the art critic Pierre Restany, the painter Bryen, writer Alain Gheerbrandt at Galerie Blumenthal, 1963, Paris.
Doctor Alfred Tomatis, eminent professor at the Language Center in Paris purchases several paintings. He introduces Bellegarde to Doctor Wiart, director of art therapy at Sainte–Anne’s Hospital in Paris where he develops an interested in chromotherapy. Bellegarde continues his research and produces a series of Psycolor Cubicles cabins for colour therapy, with the interiors painted different colours to create a mood of harmony.

1964–1966: Bellegarde presents his psycolor cubicles at the Faileigh Dickson University in New Jersey, USA, along with five selected artists from five different countries, invited to present their projects during a six–week symposium and exibition. He also exhibits at the Newark Museum, New Jersey and the Crippi & Waddel Gallery, New York. A painting of a cubicle project is aquired by the Guggenheim Museum New York.
Back in Paris he continues with his research and writes several articles for for the reviews Psychologie Médicale and Opus International.
The young filmaker, Jean-Daniel Pollet is commisioned to make a film Le Horla dedicated to Guy de Maupassant’s evocation of mental illness. He calls upon Claude Bellegarde to create a color corresponding to each stage of the character’s illness.

1967–1969: Begins the Human Nature series. Produces and designs the sets for the ballet Couleur d’sun Amour choreographed by Françoise Saint–Thibaud, Paris 1967. Commissioned to design three mosaic murals for the Groupe Scolaire Langevin-Vallon, Châtillon–sous–Bagneux 1967.

1968–1969: Completes a series of paintings based on the twelve signs of the zodiac. Invited to participate at the Vela Luka Symposium in the former Yugoslavia: architects, sculptors, painters and art critics from around Europe are called upon to invent an original habitat concept.

Solo exhibitions: Galerie Blumenthal, Paris; Galerie Niepel, Dusseldorf; Galerie E. Smith, Paris; Galerie A. Schoeller, Paris; Galerie J, Paris; Galeria Annuciata, Milan; Galerie Niepel, Dusseldorf; Galerie E. Smith, Paris; Galerie A. Schoeller, Paris; Galerie J, Paris; Galleria Annuciata, Milan; Gallerie La Ruota, Parma. Eurogalerie, Montreux; Galerie A. Schoeller, Paris; Galerie Le Gall, Paris; Galleria Morone, Milan; Galleria Rinascita, Reggio Emilia; Galeria Librairie Milano, Milan.

1970s » Wooden Scrolls (1976–1990)

At the end of the 60’s Bellegarde abandons oil paint for an industrial paint from Italy: the first synthetic polymer nitrocellulose. He also makes use of a wide range of materials and supports: inks, water, tempera on wooden boards, polyester surfaces, floor tiles. His research leads him to a new material support; a woven material made from vegetal fibers (wooden scrolls). He moves to a new studio on Rue Vergniault and also spends his summers in an old house in the Ardeche region in the company of family, friends, artists and on occasion musicians such as Steve Lacy and Luc Ferrari.

1970: Presentation of a book in the series Musée de Poche: Claude Bellegarde by Gérald Gassiot–Talabot, at the gallery of the Musée de Poche, Paris

1971–1973: A major Bellegarde retrospective is presented by the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris 1971, in which curator Pierre Gaudibert devotes an entire room to the White Period.. The municipality of Vitry–sur–Seine commissions Bellegarde to decorate the municipale restaurant for which he creates a 100–meter mural, 1972. Illustrates Éspace Rite, poems by Jean-Clarence Lambert, éditions Musée de Poche, 1973. Illustrates Blason d'Ardèche, book club edition, Saint-Germain.

1974–1975: Awarded a Doctorate in Art and Visual Art Science at the Sorbonne. Designs a magnetic puzzle Mantras, éditions Musée de Poche, Paris 1975. Produces the stage performance Espace–Rite–Couleur choreography based on the 7 yoga positions with 7 iconographical panels and music performed by Steve Lacy Myrtho et free music. Cover art for Steve Lacy’s album Dreams Saravah records, 1975. Presents Son–Rite–Couleur at the Palais des Congrès, Arles, FNEY. Music by Gilles Petit. Conception, set design, and production by Claude Bellegarde.

1976–1979: Begins the Scrolls period. Travels throughout the American West and visits the Grand Canyon and is deeply impressed by the light, colors and forms of the landscape. Begins teaching color studies chromology at the Sorbonne. Commissioned to create a mural for the Lycée Mixte, Loudeac, 1977.

Solo exhibitions: ARC, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris; Musée Hangelose and Institut Français, Holland; Maison de la Culture, Rennes; Musée des Beaux–Arts, Le Havre; Galerie Jobbe Duval, Renne; Musée de Poche, Paris; Atelier/Exposition Annick Lemoine, Paris; Maison de la Culture Cracap, Chalon–sur–Saône

1980s » Sound and Color (1986–88) Marine and Volcanic (1989–99)

The extended research of the 70s leads Bellegarde to a new point of departure in his quest for color. Visits the volcanoes of Hawaii, the Grand Canyon and American West, the Indian Ocean of the Seychelles and Ile Maurice and is deeply impressed by the light, colors and forms of the landscape.

1981–1984: Exhibits his wooden scrolls at Columbia University, New York and the International Art Gallery in Chicago. The Fond Nationale d’Art Contemporain purchases a large crushed paper work from 1957 Atonale which presently hangs in Musée Cantini Marseilles. Conference Centre d’expression d'Hôpital Ste–Anne, Paris.

1985–1987: Claude Bellegarde is conferred the title of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French minister of culture Jack Lang in 1985.

1988–1989: Travels to the Seychelles islands in 1988 and to Hawaii in 1989 where he visits the volcanos Mauna Loa and Kilauea.

1989–1990: Galerie Bernard–Davignon, Paris presents a major retrospective of the White Period and publishes at the same time the book Bellegarde–Achromatisme 1953-1957, éditions B. Davignon, 1989. He presents an Installation in the Futuroscope, for the May Ist Centenary which is now in the collection of the Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val–de–Marne.

Solo exhibitions: Centre Culturel Pablo Neruda, Corbeil–Essonnes; Galerie C. Ratie, Paris; FIAC Grand Palais, Paris; Galerie Zerbib, Paris; Columbia University, New York, USA; Galerie d’Art International, Paris; Galerie d’Art International, Chicago, USA; Gallery Fame, Houston, USA; Centre Culturel André Malraux, Cergy-Pontoise; Galerie 1950, Paris; Galerie de Cluny, Cluny; Le 13e Art, Paris; Galerie Bernard Davignon, Paris; Musée de Chatellerault; Musée de Niort; Galerie Jousse-Sequin, Paris

1990s » Vison of Color (1997–2001)

1990: exhibits at the first Seoul International Art Festival at the National Museum of Contempory Art with Sam Francis, Karel Appel, Gottfried Honegger, Mimmo Rotella, Robert Rauschenburg

1991–1997: Visits Ile Maurice in 1991. Begins Vision of Color, 1997 series

1999–2000: Travels to Morocco for a major touring retrospective exhibition Claude Bellegarde – Métamorphose de la Couleur.

Solo exhibitions: Futuroscope, Poitiers; Galerie Jousse–Sequin, Paris; Galerie Katia Granoff, Paris; Galerie Bernard Davignon, Paris; FIAC (Galerie Larock-Granoff), Paris; Centre hospitalier de Poissy; Maison des arts de Sochaux; Rétrospective Claude Bellegarde: Institut Français de Rabat; Institut Français du Nord,Tanger; Institut Français de Fez, Meknes; Musée des Oudayas, Rabat, Morroco; Galerie Larock-Granoff, Paris

Recent work » Ephemeral (2003–2005) Gray–Light (2005)

The tapestry La Couleur du regard–The Color of Perception, Manufacture des Gobelins haute lisse workshop, is cut from the loom in 2004 and is part of the Mobilier National collection The French daily Humanité commissions a large painting Regard sur l’Humanité -Gaze on Humanity which is exhibited at the Fête de l'Humanité in 2004.

2006: Guest lecturer at the 2006 Institut National d’Histoire deArt, Paris conference Un demi–siècle avec Pierre Restany

Solo exhibitions: Galerie Larock–Granoff, Paris; Galerie La Hune–Brenner, Paris; L’Oréal headquarters, Paris; Édifor Galerie, Paris; Espace Châtelet Victoria, Paris; Galerie Larock-Granoff, Paris; Mediatheque Reuill Malmaison; Galerie Olivier Nouvellet, Paris.