Guido Molinari


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Canadian painter, sculptor, and writer, one of his country's leading abstract artists. He was born in Montreal, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, 1948–51, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1951. From the beginning of his career Molinari was devoted to abstract art with rigorous seriousness and from 1955 to 1957, while still in his early 20s, he ran Galerie l'Actuelle, a small avant-garde showplace in Montreal for non-figurative art. In his very early work he experimented with automatism, but by 1956 (when he held a one-man show at his own gallery) his paintings consisted of simple arrangements of black straight-edged forms on white (Black Angle, NG of Canada, Ottawa 1956). Such works were influenced by the formal purity of Les Plasticiens, but Dennis Reid (A Concise History of Canadian Painting, 1973) writes that they are ‘much more economical and finally more emotionally satisfying than anything the Plasticiens were ever able to achieve’. In the early 1960s Molinari began using vertical bands of colour and from 1963 he made the bands of equal width. This ‘stripe’ format brought his work within the orbit of Op art and he was represented at the exhibition that more than any other established the movement—‘The Responsive Eye’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1965. After this Molinari began to make paintings based on geometric division of the canvas, for example into chequer-board patterns. He also made sculpture and wrote on art, including articles in the magazine Situations, which he helped to found in 1959. A collection of his writings, Écrits sur l'art (1954–1975), was published in Ottawa in 1976. In the same year the National Gallery of Canada organized a major retrospective that was shown in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Some of his later paintings are virtually monochromatic.

Subjects: Art.

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