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Last updated: 6/23/2019
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Gallery News / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Pierre Alechinsky (b. 1927): The Year of the Snake

Boxes / Central Park / Critters / Drawings / Faces / Grandes Marges / Hors Texte
Labyrinths / Landscapes / Mark-Making / Screamers / Snakes / Transformations / Venice / Volcanoes
In the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Snake comes every twelve years. For Alechinsky, a founding member of COBRA (an acronym for the cities that contributed members to the group, Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam), the Year of the Snake can be an auspicious one. In 1977, also the Year of the Snake, Alechinsky was awarded the first Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting and executed one of the prints we are featuring, also called The Year of the Snake. In 1989, Alechinsky's Guggenheim retrospective which had been traveling in America and Europe for almost two years had finally come to its end, in 2001, we celebrated the Year of the Snake with a large show of Alechinsky's original prints and several drawings; in 2013, the Year of the Snake has come again, and we have 94 of his etchimgs, aquatints, lithographs, screenprints and mixed media works on our walls (we will also have lots more framed and visible leaning against the bookshelves beneath the walls where his art is hanging). In this and the pages that follow (and the ones we will shortly be adding), we are featuring many of Alechinsky's favorite images: Central Park, snakes, volcanoes, gardens, dog-kings, smiling crocodiles and sea monsters, and people existing as best they can in a world that often seems to invite extreme emotional responses. (Sometimes you just want to scream!) Still, the central act of Alechinsky's art is the making of marks on a sheet of paper, on a canvas, on a copperplate, on a lithographic stone: for that is what distinguishes artists (visual or verbal) from destroyers. Or perhaps we might be to the list of things that make an artist, a sense of the ridiculous in both its comic and tragic guises and the strength to laugh both at it and with it. This show will be on display until at least mid-April 2014.
The Year of the Snake. Original color serigraph with etching, 1977. 150 signed & numbered impressions on Arches wove paper. Published by the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute. Image size: 964x634mm. Mat size: 48x36 inches. Price: Please call or email for current pricing information.
Seoul 88. Original color lithograph, 1988. Edition: 300 signed and numbered impressions plus 30 artists proofs printed by Galerie Lelong, Paris, for the 1988 Olympic Print Portfolio. The work was never published because the Olympic Portfolio publisher went bankrupt. We have been told by one of the principal creditors that while the prints were in storage awaiting the outcome of the bankruptcy proceedings, many of the prints were ruined by water damage. All of our impressions, however, are in excellent condition. Image size: 760x560mm. Mat size: 36x28 inches. Price: Please call or email for current pricing information.
Paris. Original lithograph, 1984. 150 signed & numbered impressions. Image size: 844x565mm. Mat size: 42x30 inches. Price: Please call or email for current pricing information.
Snake Fish. Original color lithograph, 1977. 100 signed and numbered impressions for the deluxe edition of Pierre Alechinsky, Paintings and Writings (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum, 1977). Published on the occasion of the award of the first Mellon Prize to Alechinsky, the deluxe edition of 100 is signed by Alechinsky; this lithograph was originally produced to accompany the book, though it has taken on a separate life of its own. The snake on the right appears to resent the process of evolution by which the fish, seen most clearly in his tail (bottom center) appears to be evolving into a life form able to leave the sea behind (unless, of course, he is warmly greeting this new life form by giving it a welcoming sniff with his sensory apparatus. Image size: 300x210mm. Mat size: 20x16 inches. Price: Please call or email for current pricing information.
The winner of the first Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting (1977) and the French Grand Prix National for painting in 1984, Alechinsky has been recognized in recent years as one of the most significant living artists. (The art market has also noticed his stature: one of his paintings sold at auction about 15 years ago for over Please call or email for current pricing information,000.)

Alechinsky was just barely out of his teens when he burst onto the art scene as one of the original members of the COBRA group, and over the years he has emerged as one of the most imaginative and witty artists of our times. Alechinsky fans are everywhere. John Russell, who in 1986-87 devoted three separate columns in The New York Times to Alechinsky, sees him as "a man of strange blameless passions. Decorated invoices, worthless stock certificates, obsolete air-force navigational charts and ancient hand-written archival materials spark his imagination. . . . He has a taste for nature’s upheavals." Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican novelist for whom "the garden is the center of the world," has described Alechinsky as a man who "paints gardens. . . . He knows that the history of gardens is the history of all of us. . . . Alechinsky . . . chooses any of the forked paths of the manicured gardens at Blois or Hampton Court and then transforms them, ferociously, into the savage gardens of the primitive mind, the original unity of dream and awareness, reason and imagination, desire and reality." Indeed, it may be that it is his dream of recovering that lost unity that makes him, as The Times called him, "a poet of entanglement, [who] resolutely turns the emphasis away from himself, preferring to act rather as historian and referee than as autobiographer. . . . His touch is light, his thought rapid, his view of the world as sharp as it is benign. There is no better companion, and not many who keep us so consistently amused and are so generous with their findings."

Alechinsky has had major retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art and The Guggenheim Museum in NY, The Museum of Arts, Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh (in 1977, the Year of the Snake), The Palais des Beaux-Arts and the Musées Royeaux des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Vile de Paris and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Boymans-von-Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Louisiana Museum in Humlebaek, and museums in Aalborg, Brême, Copenhagen, Darmstadt, Des Moines, Düsseldorf, Gordes, Hanover, Marseille, Metz, Mexico City, Munich, St. Paul de Vence, Toronto, and Zurich.

Select Bibliography: General works: Daniel Abadie and Willy Van Den Bussche, Pierre Alechinsky (Ostend: PMMK, 2000); Pierre Alechinsky, Cent vingt dessins, donation de l'artiste (Brussels: Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels 1973); Pierre Alechinsky, Divers faits (Vevey: Musee Janisch, 2000); .  Pierre Alechinsky, Au Pays de l'encre (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1998), Pierre Alechinsky, Dotremont et Cobra-foret (Paris: Galilee, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, Drawings and Prints (Jerusalem: Musee d'Israel, 1970); Pierre Alechinsky, Hoirie Cobra (Caen: L'Échoppe, 1990); Pierre Alechinsky, Ideotraces (Paris: Editions Denoel, 1966); Pierre Alechinsky, Le bureau de titre (Paris: Fata Morgana, 1983); Pierre Alechinsky, Le test du titre: 6 planches et 61 titreurs d'elite (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1974); Pierre Alechinsky, Margin and Center (NY: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1987); Pierre Alechinsky, New Work: Pains de terre émaillé, Floa Danica drawings, Revalorisations (NY: Andre Emmerich Gallery, 1991); Pierre Alechinsky, Notes sur Orsay (Caen: L'Échoppe, 1989); Pierre Alechinsky, Paintings and Writings (Pittsburgh: Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, 1977); Pierre Alechinsky, Pierre Alechinsky: Werke 1958-1968 (Düsseldorf. Kunstverein fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen, 1969); Pierre Alechinsky, Reponses a un questionnaire (Caen: L'Echoppe, 1987); Pierre Alechinsky, The Future of Property. Fourteen Specimens re-evaluated by Pierre Alechinsky (NY: Lefebre Gallery, 1970); Pierre Alechinsky and Georges Duby, Alechinsky (Zurich: Maeght Zurich, 1980); Pierre Alechinsky, and Amos Kenan, Les Tireurs de Langue (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1974); Pierre Alechinsky and Karel Appel, Two-brush paintings. Their Poems by Hugo Claus. Foreword by Christian Dotrement (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1980); Karel Appel & Pierre Alechinsky, Encres a deux pinceaux (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1978); Alain Bosquet, Alechinsky (Paris: Le musee de poche 1971); Jacques Busse, Pierre Alechinsky (Chicago: Arts Club Of Chicago, 1965); Pierre Descargues, Alechinsky Bouches et Grilles (Paris: Galerie Maeght Lelong 1986); Christian Dotrement et al. Appel et Alechinsky: Encres à deux pinceaux, peintures, etc. (Saint Paul De Vence: Fondation Maeght, 1982); Georges Duby, Alechinsky (Zurich: Maeght Zurich 1980); Jacques Dupin, Alechinsky: Laves Emaillees (Paris: Galerie Lelong, 1988); Alain Robbe-Grillet, Pierre Daix et al., Pierre Alechinsky (Valencia: IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, 2000); Alain Robbe-Grillet, John Yau, Daniel Abadie and Pierre Daix, Pierre Alechinsky (Paris: Jeu de Paume, 1998); Pierre Alechinsky. Divers faits (Vevey: Musee Janisch, 2000); Petit journal: Made in France 1947-1997 (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1997); Jacques Putnam,. Alechinsky (Paris: Celiv, 1990); Michel Sicard, Alechinsky Sur Rhone (Paris: Galerie Lelong, 1990); Michel Sicard, ed. Pierre Alechinsky: Extraits pour traits (Paris: Galilée, 1989); Giorgio Soavi, Alechinsky: XXXVI Biennale de Venise, Pavillon Belge (Venice: Venice Biennale, 1972).

Prints: Daniel Abadie, Alechinsky. les ateliers du midi (Paris: Gallimard, 2010; Pierre Alechinsky, Alechinsky a l'imprimerie: 150 estampes (Paris: le Musee national d'art moderne, 1975, 1977); Pierre Alechinsky, Alechinsky. (Rome: Edizioni 2RC, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, Aux petits soins (Paris: Atelier Clot, 1989); Pierre Alechinsky, Ces robes qui m'evoquaient Venise. (Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, L'avenir de la propriéte (Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1992); Pierre Alechinsky, Communication: 16 Manifestations d'Hypertrophie Calligraphique (Vouvière (Belgique): Editions du Daily-Bul, 1967); Pierre Alechinsky and Michel Butor, Le Chien Roi (Paris: Daniel Lelong Editeur, 1984); Michel Butor et Michel Sicard, Pierre Alechinsky: Frontières et Bordures (Paris: Editions Galilee, 1984); Michel Butor et Michel Sicard, Alechinsky: Travaux d'Impression (Paris: Editions Galilee, 1992); Michel Draguet et al., Alechinsky from A to Y (Tielt, Belgium: Lannoo, 2007); Gérard Macé, M.-F. Quignard et Antoine Coron, Les Impressions de Pierre Alechinsky. Paris: Bibliotheque Nationale de France, 2005; Rainer Michael Mason et al, Pierre Alechinsky: Noir sur blanc (Geneva: Caninet des Estampes du Musee D'Art et D'Histoire, 1998); Yves Riviere, Pierre Alechinsky: Les estampes de 1946 a 1972 (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1973).
Pierre Alechinsky, Paintings and Writings (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum, 1977). Published on the occasion of the award of the first Mellon Prize to Alechinsky, the deluxe edition of 100 is signed by Alechinsky. The book contains essays by Alechinsky on artists like Joan Miró and Bram van Velde, stories by Alechinsky, a photoducmentation of COBRA, and a good selection of Alechinsky's most important early paintings. The work is decorated by reproductions of drawings done especially for the volume. Although unsigned copies are presently selling for as much as Please call or email for current pricing information we are pleased to be able to offer several used copies for Please call or email for current pricing information.00 each.

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