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 1956 Georges Noël found himself tempted by paste, according to his biographer. His choice of pictorial material was either composite, an agglomeration of rags and scarcely identifiable pieces of scrap, or else thickly layered coats of material, as evidenced in our example. This "formless magma" resulted in a "matrix-like" character in which all "disorganized gestures" apparently became stuck. The radicalness of Noël's work at this point attracted the attention of the gallery owner Paul Facchetti, who invited the artist to take part in an exhibition at the Stadtisches Museum Leverkusen and then later in an exhibition to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the Galerie Paul Facchetti.
Acquired directly from the artist, 2008
Michael Butor and Philippe-Alain Michaud, George Noël, La Difference, p. 82, ill.