Georges Noël was born in Béziers, France in 1924. He began his education as an engineering student and then studied both painting and sculpture in Pau from 1939-1945. Influenced greatly by the art informal and Noveau Réalisme movements that emerged at this time, Georges Noël believes in gesture, objects and the accident. The imagery within each oh his paintings is inspired by primitive and archaic symbols, graffiti art and musical scores.
After moving to Paris in 1955, his artistic career began to flourish, and it continued to accelerate when he relocated to the United States. Beginning in the 1950s and continuing through 2000 Georges Noël produced both canvases and works on hand-made papers, which were based on palimpsests. Palimpsests are old manuscript pages often made of parchment or vellum that have been written on, scraped off and then used again. During this process, the old writing would not be completely erased and would often still be visible. Georges Noël takes the concept of palimpsest pages and builds upon his canvasses with sculptural materials such as sand, crushed flint, and raw pigments bringing three dimensionality and vigor to each work. Georges Noël was a professor at the Minneapolis School of Art in 1969 and lived in New York from 1969-1983. He returned to Paris in 1983.
The artwork of Georges Noël has been exhibited internationally and is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bibliothèque Nationale and F.N.A.C. in Paris, and the Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
In Untitled, 1972 Georges Noël experiments with a composition that stands in contrast to his earlier works. The canvas is dressed in a neutral beige, which is soft to the eye. Its vastness and space gives it the allusion of having a smooth suede surface, when in fact Noël utilizes sand and polymer binder to create a rich texture. This technique - in which he opts for materials that offer resistance - is considered Noël's signature style, and it is exhibited in many of his works. Noël portrays his mastery of layout and design by interrupting the canvas with a series of geometric shapes. The carefully fashioned grids of squares and diamond shapes mirror a device that Noël had employed in other works, such as The Skylight, Thema Celeste no. 3, and Cosmogonie Lunaire Palimpseste. Unlike those works, however, Sans Titre, 1972 applies color to these shapes, in order to build some contrast and movement. The color is a deep indigo blue that, when paired with the beige of the canvas, is complimentary and aesthetically appealing. Noël emphasizes the grids by using ink and graphite, yet it is interesting how he chooses not to color them. This application of negative and positive space further enhances the design and composition of the canvas. The patterns serve as a blueprint, mapping out its structure, yet ceasing to limit its overall vastness. In addition, compared to the color and thick texture of the piece, the finite patterns allude to the appearance of layers. In this particular work, Noël proves his remarkable ability to arrange a boundless abyss of color and shape on canvas. Departing from his previous works, which are eccentric and tireless in movement, Noël evokes a simpler style that parallels the qualities of abstract contemporary art, as seen in the works of Antoni Tapies and Cy Twombly.
The Pace Gallery
Private Collection, Connecticut