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Luis Feito and Paris (1959 – 61)

Luis Feito is one of the key artists from Spanish and European postwar art. His departure for Paris in the mid-1950s transformed him into one of the Spanish artists most connected to what was happening in Europe.
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    Luis Feito and Paris (1959 - 61)

    Luis Feito is one of the key artists from Spanish and European postwar art. His departure for Paris in the mid-1950s transformed him into one of the Spanish artists most connected to what was happening in Europe.

    After his first exhibition in the Arnaud gallery of Paris in 1955, he regularly presented different solo exhibitions until 1974. Parallel to this, in the 1960s, Luis Feito exhibited in other French art galleries, such as the Grange gallery in Lyon or the Argos gallery in Nantes, in addition to other Parisian galleries, such as La Pochade, Steel and Regards, more recently.

    He participated in the exhibition “13 peintres espagnols actuels”, held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Paris in May and June 1959. The catalogue included a text by Jacques Guérin as the museum’s chief curator. The works which made up this exhibition were taken as the starting point for the organization of a more ambitious show which, increasing the number of artists and of works, visited the main European capitals.

    This was also the year of the 1st Paris Biennale, in which Luis Feito received a prize from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), through this university’s representative office in Paris, allowing him to participate in an exhibition a couple of years later. The Paris Biennale —held from 2 to 25 October at the Musée d’Art Moderne of Paris— was organized by André Malraux during his period as French Minister of Culture, with the aim of including this city on the international contemporary art circuit, promoting artists from 20 to 35 years old. This first edition included the presence of 25 countries and Feito, who was considered to be French, was one of the most noteworthy young participants, together with artists such as Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely and David Hamilton, among others.

    The importance of the light factor was fundamental in his work. In the words of the prestigious French art critic and historian Pierre Restany, reproduced in the 1959 essay “Feito: Castilian lyricism and the mystical tradition”, the poetics of Feito’s work lies in the treatment of light in the composition of the painting: ‘‘It is obvious that the imagination of the space is decisive in Feito’s work. All of the pictorial elements, starting with the matter and the colour, are subject to it. […] Light, above all, is a certain condition of space and not a chromatic value”. This careful consideration of light was, undoubtedly, a differentiating factor compared with other art autre artists.

    In 1985 he was appointed Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters, and in 1993 Commander of the same order.


    186 B, 1960

    Oil on canvas
    130 x 162 cm

    Composition, c. 1958

    Mixed media on canvas
    100 x 130 cm

    Untitled, 1959

    Oil on panel
    24 x 29 cm

    Nº 82019, 1960

    Oil on canvas
    81 x 100 cm

    Untitled, 1961

    Oil on cardboard
    20 x 23 cm

    Cuadro nº 217, 1960

    Mixed media on canvas
    87 x 114 cm

    253, 1961

    Oil on canvas
    150 x 150 cm


    No. 179, 1960

    Mixed media on canvas
    130 x 162 cm
    Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
    visit the Reina Sofía's website

    No. 175, 1960

    Oil with sand and pebbles on canvas
    159.4 x 179.7 cm
    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
    visit the Guggenheim's website


    186 B

    Interview with Luis Feito conducted by Elena Sorokina and Galeria Mayoral


    Elena Sorokina: Good afternoon Luis, first of all I’d like to thank you for taking time for this conversation, it is a great pleasure to talk to you.

    Luis Feito: Good afternoon, I’m delighted too.

    E.S.: Between 1950 and 1970 you have participated in an impressive number of major international exhibitions – four times in Venice Biennial, twice in Sao Paolo Biennial, and also in the documenta II in 1959. What did documenta 1959 mean for you? Did you go to Kassel?

    L.F.: No, I didn’t go personally to Kassel, but it was a very important exhibition for us, for my generation, and for me in particular. Because at that time Kassel was new and it was very important to be part of it.

    E.S.: documenta II coincided in time with the first Paris Biennale of 1959, a legendary exhibition that was founded by André Malraux in his capacity of Minister of Cultural Affairs. In some instances, the Bienniale’s foundational Postwar rhetoric bears some similarity to documenta’s – Malraux spoke about freedom and artistic freedom to which Paris should remain open-minded. You are featured among the “young artists” with Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, David Hamilton and many others.

    LF: Well, it’s funny you mention that Biennale because nobody has ever asked me about it again, nor have I ever heard anything more about the first Paris Biennale in my life, and it was very nice because we were all very young painters. To me they gave that prize, which was the second, I think. The big houses of the French bourgeoisie received us with a lot of enthusiasm and fantastic kindness. What Paris did at that time was brilliant.

    Galeria Mayoral: It was the UMAM Prize, correct? Two years later, in 1961, an exhibition of the 1959 award-winners was organized in which you also participated.

    L.F.: Yes, it was. And that show was very well received.


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    Images in the header:
    1. Luis Feito in his studio Paris, 1960.
    2. Luis Feito in his studio in Paris, by the late 50s.
    3. Exhibition view of Post War Art in Spain. A project from Mayoral gallery at Colnaghi (London), 2018.