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Manières noires ("Black Styles")

The artists presented in this exhibition were selected for their deliberate, never incidental, use of black. Art has made varying but constant use of black, from the era of cave paintings to the present day. But the bold gesture made by Kazimir Malevich in 1915, by revealing his Black Square on a white background, propelled the colour black to iconic status, and opening many doors for him...

While it has been omnipresent in the 20th and 21st centuries in the fine arts (Dubuffet, Serra, Broodthaers, Boltanski, etc.), being used to cover a wide variety of materials, forms and content, black has also asserted itself in other areas of creativity, and this is the subject of the "Manières noires" exhibition.

From the start, black has been integral to photography – indeed it is even one of its fundamental components. Now, in the digital era and with the perfect rendering of colour, a great many artists continue to explore the infinite possibilities of black: Sugimoto, Braeckman, etc.The same can be said of cinema: some experimental directors use either the black film leader as a support for the image, or the film reel as a graphical surface, or the projection of alternating black and white images, or indeed the film without the reel (Diaz Morales, Tambellini, etc.).From their origins, cartoons have been created on the basis of the black line: initially a technical constraint, it evolved, in the hands of different creators (Blutch, Tardi, David B., etc.), into an aesthetic stance.In design, the use of black has long been dictated by material and functional necessity, but it has gradually freed itself from this necessity to become the artistic choice of radicalism (Marcel Wanders, Tom Dixon, etc.).

Fashion and black have long maintained close ties, which became stronger still at the end of the 19th century, and reached their peak with Coco Chanel's creation of the "little black dress", followed by the monochrome black collections of Comme Des Garçons, the punk clothing of Vivienne Westwood, the avant-garde designs of the "Antwerp Six", and so on. Not to forget accessories made of black Chantilly lace and mourning jewellery, the use of which dates back to Queen Victoria – the inconsolable widow. The symbolic meanings of black are many and paradoxical. While synonymous with misfortune, death, fear and austerity, it also evokes authority, morality, sobriety, refinement and elegance.

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