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Claude Bellegarde

b. 1927

The French abstractionist Claude Bellegarde studied painting and sculpture at a private workshop in Paris. 

At the end of World War II Bellegarde met Lanza del Vasto, the famous Italian philosopher, nonviolent activist, poet, writer and the leader of the Community of the Ark. Claude Bellegarde became an active member of the community. At the same time he began to sculpt.

Being a figurative artist initially, Bellegarde became inspired by the Rorschach tests and the art of abstract expressionists and eventually turned to tachisme (painting with colour blots).

In 1951 the artist entered into his monochromic period, called the White Period. He created a series of artworks called Achromaticism which included textural monochromatic abstract paintings. This is the time when Bellegarde became recognizable and a fully legitimate member of the French postwar artists’ community. He joined the avant-garde group Dessins, which was engaged in action painting, a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied. Later he moved towards abstract expressionism. It is curious that in 1955 his White artworks were exhibited in the Facchetti gallery, where Jackson Pollock, the most prominent abstract expressionist, had been presented to the French audience.

After Bellegarde’s work was appreciated by the critic and art theoretician Pierre Restany foreign galleries became interested in the artist: his works were exhibited in Germany, Belgium, the UK and Italy, where they were particularly popular. For instance, in Milan his canvas was acquired by the famous artist Lucio Fontana. French museums and art centers (including the Pompidou Center) became interested in Bellegarde’s works and began to acquire them for their collections. 

In the 1960s Bellegarde returned to painting with colour. He spent some time in the USA participating in art symposia exploring the theory of color. In 1964 his works were exhibited in the Guggenheim Museum in New York. On his return to France he continued to research colour. He was invited to decorate the chromotherapy ward at Dr. Tomatis clinic who based his practice on the studies of the influence of colour upon the psychological state of anxious patients. The research was published in The Human Nature monograph, and Bellegarde’s symbolic work of this period called History of the Eye was acquired by the Lyon Museum of Fine Arts.

Bellegarde was a representative of France at the International Biennale in Sao Paolo in 1965. In the same year he received the award of the Biennale in San-Marino, Italy. In 1971 a retrospective exhibition of his works was held at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. 

In 1983 Bellegarde received a Doctoral Degree at Sorbonne. Afterwards he actively participated in conferences and worked on architectural, musical and cinematographic projects. In 1986 the French ministry of culture awarded the artist with the Order of Arts and Letters.

His works are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Pompidou Center, the Cantigny museum in Marseille, Museum of Fine Arts in Lille, the Tate Gallery in London, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and many others.