Claude Viallat

Claude Viallat

Nîmes, 1936

Born in 1936 in Nimes, where he still lives and works today, Claude Viallat was the prime mover of what is considered to be the last great movement among the artistic avant-gardes of France: Supports/Surfaces (1969-1972). Despite its brief period of ascendency, its impact on art history was very significant since it called into question the pictorial conventions, starting with the support media for paintings, such as frames and canvases, trying to smash the established order and start again.

Claude Viallat’s artistic practice was radical, and he questioned the fundamentals of art, painting and its ecosystem. He worked manipulating fabrics without frames and replaced canvases with everyday fabrics, such as bedsheets, roller blinds, and the fabrics of umbrellas and tents. He went as far as working with both sides of his surfaces, with painting, impregnation and folding processes.

In addition, the artist defends "painting for painting's sake" without the need for a theme or the pretext of artistic representations. In his case, he developed a new formal language, taking as a recurring motif the same rectangular shape with rounded corners for more than fifty years, which determined the composition of his works.

The repetition and apparent simplicity present in all of his works belie the complexity of their subtle changes in size, formats, and contrasts. He himself describes painting as "a tremor, an inner uncertainty, a commitment to change, to infringe, to subvert knowledge and consciousness".

Viallat is represented in leading international institutions and collections. His work has been the subject of individual exhibitions, and among the most notable have been his retrospective at the Center National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou (National Museum of Modern Art in Paris) in 1982 and his participation in the Venice Biennale in 1988, as well as of other more recent ones such as the Fabre Museum in Montpellier, the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany and the MuBe Museum in Brazil.

Exhibitions and fairs

"A canvas in itself is nothing, what’s important is the process."


Claude Viallat