French painter, born in Nantes. His abstract paintings, always the result of the work of a single session, tend to expose the elements of painting, especially the process of making. This to some extent distinguished him from other post-war French abstractionists who were more concerned with the exercise of taste and ‘fine painting’. For instance, some of Barré's paintings consist of repeated lines of equal length but differentiated by the accidents of the dragging of the brush along the surface of the canvas. In other works he used paint applied with the knife or the aerosol can. In some works the composition is determined by the mathematical division of the canvas, but the paintings have a kind of instability which the critic Jean Clay compared to the operations of the dream. Because of his somewhat austere approach to painting, he was relatively little known for a long time but he became more successful in the 1970s, partly owing to the interest in American painters who were similarly preoccupied with process.
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Martin Barré (1979)