Artwork of the month March

Isidore Isou, Double réseau, 1961

Isidore Isou

* 1925 in Botoşani, Romania, † 2007 in Paris, France

Double réseau, 1961

Oil on canvas


Donation of Robert Altmann, Viroflay

In Double réseau – double network or twin-T network (a term used in electrical transmis- sion) – we see two contrasting patches of colour of similar proportions, dividing the sup- port into roughly two halves, on a white primed canvas. One patch, applied in a thin layer of black oil, runs into the glazed white with raggedly frayed edges, thus giving the impression of revealing a "hidden" layer. The other patch of colour, in contrast, has the quality of a white knifed-on impasto. On both Isidore Isou paints close-set trails of orange colour reminiscent of hand-written characters. Singular black semiotic bodies are additionally applied on the patch of white impasto. On closer scrutiny one can make out isolated letters, compound word constructions, and typographical symbols among the orange "text form" on both patches of colour. Based on the accustomed process of everyday perception, this prompts the beholder to attempt to identify readable elements within this unreadable conglomerate.

The Romanian artist Isou moved to Paris in 1945, where he became the founder and foremost theorist of the Letterist movement, who regarded elements of writing and graphical symbols as expressive, creative devices. Dissecting individual words and reassembling the letters corresponds to the compositional principle of Isou's painting, that was based on the poetic qualities of symbols. By detaching letters from words, the signifier (the form) is divorced from the signified (the meaning) and remains in the form of a semiotic body that may be both figuration and abstraction in the context of painting. "No word can convey the impulses that one wishes to convey by it" – for Isidore Isou reducing language to the individual element of letters and the unknown reassembled entity is the most creative and purest form of poetry.

Denise Rigaud

<b>Isidore Isou, Double réseau, 1961</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.