22 parts: various dimensions
Screenprint on board, slipcase
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artist
Rythme du millimètre
Portfolio of 21 screenprints
Aurélie Nemours (born 1910 in Paris, France, where she died in 2005) was the “grande dame de l’art concret” and is one of the few women of her generation who was successful in this male-dominated, supposedly “cold art.” Although she is far more well-known for her oeuvre of paintings, she also wrote poetry with a condensed language that reflects the same elementalism found in her visual works (see her edition of collected writings “Option avec blanc”). Nemours did not begin to pursue art until she was roughly forty years old. She studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre, then she attended the Ecole Paul Colin (1937–1940) and the Académie André Lhote (1941) before she became an apprentice in Fernand Léger’s studio (1948/49). After her artistic training, in which she focused primarily on figuration, she began concentrating solely on geometric abstraction in the beginning of the 1950s. She developed a strictly reduced vocabulary based on orthogonal structures – horizontal and vertical forms, rectangles, squares, angular forms and lines – which she cultivated for the rest of her career. This vocabulary can be found in the exquisite color pictures that she primarily reduced to a few tonal harmonies as well as in her hieratic black-and-white sequences and the monochrome works she began producing in the late 1980s. The artist once said that the foundations of her work were the three universally corresponding components of “nombre, rythme et forme.” These define the direction in which the relational modalities between rhythm and grid, line and plane, horizontal and vertical, and fullness and emptiness unfold along different accentuations (see “Toccata 7,” “mil neuf cent quatre vingt six X,” and “Sur le nombre 5”).
Her paintings were the result of long processes of reflection during in which she first created meticulous sketches in charcoal or pastel. In the course of the 1970s, this process inspired Nemours to concentrate more on series, such as “Sériel blanc,” “Structure du silence,” and “nombre et hazard.” Her series “Rythme du millimeter” is not only one of the most extensive series she created; it is also one of the most radical. It consists of more than twenty paintings (including “Rythme du millimeter” from 1976) as well as a 21-part artist’s edition of graphic prints with the same name that was published in 1985. Like a musical score, this ode to the millimeter creates a visual harmony that is based on the interaction between number, rhythm, and form through an austere black-and-white contrast and the greatest possible compactness. The “Rythme du millimeter” series of works, which was created over an entire decade, captures the essence of Aurélie Nemours’ philosophical understanding of her own work. In the geometric art she chose to create, it was the “valeurs éternelles et absolues” (Serge Lemoine) that she strove to express in her formal austerity.