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Francis Wilson, from knots to colour

Francis Wilson, Chulla III, 1983 Musées d'Angers, D. Riou

Francis Wilson, Couleurs sans paroles 4, 2018-2019
Musées d'Angers, D. Riou

Francis Wilson, Volutes, 2020
Musées d'Angers, D. Riou

Musée Jean-Lurçat et de la Tapisserie contemporaine

3 July 2020 – 10 January 2021

The Musée Jean-Lurçat et de la Tapisserie contemporaine is hosting a retrospective exhibition devoted to American artist Francis Wilson, born in 1935, and living in France since the late 1960s. 
His artistic talent was recognized early on in his career by French museums and cultural institutions, many of whom acquired key pieces of his production (Fonds national d’art contemporain, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Musée des Arts décoratifs de Paris, etc.).

An atypical, self-taught artist, Francis Wilson, who was living in New York in the early 1960s, travelled to Europe and settled in Paris in 1967. He devoted himself to his artistic practice from 1974 onward.
His encounter in the early 1970s with Michel Thomas and the network of artists belonging to the “Textile/Art” association, which also included tapestry artist Pierre Daquin, was decisive and encouraged him to pursue the path of textile art.
His work was initially of modest size: mainly sculptures in coconut fibre, knotted and painted, a kind of “journey into the corporeal universe” (Michel Thomas). Much of his work from this period is evocative of Art Brut. 

Then very quickly, as early as 1978, Wilson experimented with large-format pieces, as can be seen in the Tjurunga series. The Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris acquired one of these pieces following the large 1985 exhibition held at the Musée des Arts décoratifs, known as Architextures 85/Fibres art 85.
Like large envelopes or heavy coats, the three Tjurunga that make up this cycle are bas-reliefs whose natural folds are the result of the structure of the work: the knots of coconut fibre covered in paint and sand. Other knotted pieces may also be seen here, such as the Mutta, large folded squares that the artist would use to make his Empreintes, and Erintja.

In 1981, the large triptych Memories of a Santacruzian Spring, comprised of three knotted squares, each measuring two metres squared, was selected for the 10th International Tapestry Biennial in Lausanne. It was later acquired by the Fonds national d’art contemporain.

Francis Wilson highlights the medium and structure of his pieces and works on their surface using pigments in a very gestural fashion. This is particularly evident in his large series from the 1980s shown at the Galerie nationale de la tapisserie in Beauvais, such as his Chulla series and Adribilanté, also purchased by the State and on long-term loan to the Musée des Arts décoratifs de Paris. These consist of sewn and painted free-hanging canvases, which are hung directly from the wall.

This exhibition depicts the evolution of an artist, who in the late 1990s and early 2000s, painted his works on canvas stretchers using vigorous brushstrokes. These latter paintings are an explosion of colour and include series such as Couleurs sans paroles and More couleurs sans paroles, done in expressive small formats. 
The exhibition also marks the donation of work by the artist to the Musées d’Angers.

This exhibition benefits from the support of the State - Direction Régionale des Affaires culturelles des Pays de la Loire and is sponsored by Ligerim and L’Éclat de verre.

Tuesday-Sunday > 10am-6pm
(closed Mondays, 1 January, 1 May, 1 & 11 November and 25 December)
Museum admission: €6 / €3 / Free - 26 yrs

Exhibition catalogue, French/English, €20
On sale at the museum bookstore and gift shop and by correspondence (+33 (0)2 41 05 38 99)
Visits, textile workshops, events…

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