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Abstract

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Litho 5/170 - ca. 1950
Maat 45 - 32
Iaroslav Serpan, 1922-1976
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Iaroslav Serpan

b. 1922, Prague; d. 1976, Pyrenees Mountains, France

Iaroslav Serpan was born on June 4, 1922, in Prague. His family moved to Paris around 1926, and in 1939 he began attending the Sorbonne, where he studied biology and mathematics. A self-taught painter, he worked in a Surrealist style starting in 1946 and exhibited with the Surrealists in their final major exhibition, Exposition internationale du surréalisme (International exhibition of Surrealism), at the Galerie Maeght, Paris, in 1947.

In 1948, under the influence of such artists as Antoni Tàpies and Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze), he turned to Art Informel and became part of French critic Michel Tapié’s related movement Art autre (Art of another kind). At this time and into the early 1950s, he emphasized calligraphic forms in his work, and gradually his style involved layering monochromatic backgrounds with veils of dense black markings. Also a writer, Serpan collaborated with French poet and critic Édouard Jaguer on the journal Rixes, which published only one issue (May/June 1950). In 1947 he moved to Le Pecq, a Parisian suburb, and his art was included in an exhibition of works by his Parisian compatriots François Arnal, Georges Mathieu, Pierre Soulages, Kumi Sugaï, and others at Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf. In 1953 Serpan earned a doctorate in statistical biology and would eventually teach at the Sorbonne.

He participated in exhibitions at Galerie van de Loo, Munich; Galerie Stadler, Paris; Palais des beaux-arts, Brussels; and Kootz Gallery, New York (all 1958), and his work appeared in Documenta, Kassel, West Germany (1959). Serpan won the Prix Marzotto and the Couronne d’Or of the International Center of Aesthetic Reasearch, Turin, Italy (both 1963). In 1972 he completed a triptych for the abbey of Beaulieu-en-Rouergue, France, which would be one of his last works. Most recently, early works, made between 1942 and 1955, were featured in a solo exhibition at the gallery L’or du temps, Paris (2008). Serpan has been missing and presumed dead since 1976 when he disappeared while hiking in the Pyrenees.

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