We are huge fans of the Parisian Frédéric Menguy’s work here at Midmod towers, especially the dreamy lithographs produced around Villeneuve-la-Rivière, a town he moved to in 1967, which kickstarted the blurred colourful figuration that has gone on to define him as an artist.
He not only produced paintings. His dreamlike evocations of femininity, his love of the circus and its Pierrots, the rearing horses, seas and cypress trees with layer upon layer of clashing carnival colours and orb-like shapes bleeding into his canvases can be bought as lithographs from our lovely dealer Tabitha (Circus), who brings back the Menguy she finds from select spots around the South of France for our Midcentury East and Midcentury Modern show.
So little is known here about the man who signed himself simply as ‘Menguy’. We do know that the self-confessed poetic-expressionist was born in the twentieth arrondissement of Paris in 1927 and dreamed of being an artist from an early age. As one of six siblings from a very poor family he was forced to work early on to support his family but, while working, as first an accountant in an insurance company and then part-time as a stockbroker, he attended evening classes at the City of Paris Art School which later took him on as a teacher.
His first exhibition in 1957 at the Salon des Independents in the basement of the Grand Palais gave him confidence enough to give up his position as a teacher for the artist’s life he craved. Established as a kind of Edinburgh Fringe, the Salon des Independents was an antidote to the traditional Salon. It was founded in 1884 by artists including Seurat and Signac and it was where Menguy debuted his lithographs in 1964, four years before receiving the 1968 Prix de la Critique at the St Placide Gallery. He won the Gran Prix Puvis de Chavannes later in 1985 at the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts (SNBA).
“I am quite un-classifiable,” he said, before his death in 2007. “Everybody agrees that my work is unique and that I have set my work apart by creating my own style, my own universe. I have created Menguy…Reality is not my world. The world of dreams is my reality and my work reflects that world.”
Check the floorplan on the door for CIRCUS, where our dealer Tabitha will be very happy to show you her latest Frédéric Menguy prints.