The Work of Vasarely – The Utopian Artist and His Descendants


“L”The Vasarely case,” as the press calls this hellish inheritance story unfolded by the courts over three decades, would not exist without the family. Rather, a family that leaves the door open to all kinds of frauds and profiteers, calls to settle disputes, arbitrate jealousies, faces the ruin of works of art, without disintegration. Not to mention the promised millions to whoever gets their hands on it first.

The ideology of the patriarch, the guarantee of the mother, the quarrel of the sons, Abel and Cain, protected by their wives, created two rival tribes. Lots of items to feed the “Work”.

Basic: show everything

In the beginning there was the light of good will. One day in October, after the Hungarian painter had debated this question violently with his wife Claire at their home in Seine-et-Marne Victor Vasarely, 66, makes a firm decision: it will be the foundation. In his text entitled “My Project, 1972”, he wrote, “It is nobler to give everything to everyone than to monopolize everything for oneself and one’s relatives.” This manifesto of artistic utopia—Victor will remain an ardent communist for the rest of his life—intersects the form of a testament, as it is also a question of succession. As for the “part of our children,” we also read there, they will return the “works, sketches, drawings, and documents” left in their two residences, Annet-sur-Marne, Paris suburbs, and Gordes. as mineral as in the rural Luberon.

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From that date, Victor and Claire decided to dedicate the entirety of their personal wealth to a non-profit public interest cause: the Vasarely Foundation. An entity that exists on two sites. The old Gordes castle, which the couple signed a lease on but restored with their own funds to make it their second home in the village, has housed what they call an “educational museum” since 1970. All that is missing is the second part, the design and construction of a completely new space: an architectural center in Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône.

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Pierre Vasarely explains: “This is the first time that an artist decides to finance his museum without any external economic support, whether political or patronage.” The only grandson of the 62-year-old Victor, who devoted his life to the protection of the foundation, describes his grandfather as “very generous, very ambitious, but a bit megalomaniac like all great artists”.

A great artist, but also incredibly prolific. The Hungarian, who moved to abstraction, would develop a unique technique: the curvature of shapes and colors, called the “plastic alphabet”. This allows him to quickly and mass produce things. Their number, in the thousands, explains why their census has become a challenge over time – especially in the context of succession. In particular, the artist sometimes takes pains to return to the history of his works, complicates their history, and has lost the desire to create a complete catalog of his works.

Op art invites itself everywhere

An artist who was called the founder of Op art by a journalist Time In Paris in 1964, he produced “kinetic” and “optical” works that quickly brought him success and fortune in Europe and even the United States, together with his future mistress Denise René, a gallery owner. United. Brands snapped the Hungarian publicist’s creation of the French. Car manufacturer Renault is counted among its employers, as is Havas, and this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the design of its famous logo. Vasarelys emerged as a family with Pompidou in the 1970s. Op art is everywhere.

A dizzying success, if we go back to the starting point, the day Victor set down his suitcases in Paris in 1930. He is 24 years old. Penniless, he has only his genius and his life ahead of him. Claire joins him on a train a year later and becomes pregnant in an event not mentioned in the program. This pregnancy will be discussed within the couple, it is not a secret. After the accident, 9 months later, André will be baptized. In 1934, he was given a younger brother, Jean-Pierre.

enemy brothers

André and Jean-Pierre, siblings are established. Trouble can begin. Because these two quickly become opposites like night and day. Just as Jean-Pierre is fun and creative, Andre is calm and reserved. And it’s as if each of them took an aspect of the father’s personality and brought it to its climax.

With Andre, science takes over. He became a doctor, following in the footsteps of his father, who turned to medicine in Hungary before starting his artistic career. After only two years on the faculty, he left the college to enter the Victor School of Art.

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It is Jean-Pierre who moves towards fine art. Visual artist Jean-Pierre, who goes by the pseudonym Yvaral, is known for his talent as well as his love of running, women, wine and racing cars. But this Dionysian face of the world also experienced phases of great disillusionment. No matter what Yvaral does, he grows up in the shadow of the giant Vasareli, and throughout his life he will only carry the red mark of being his “son”. So, like a spoiled child, he gets angry, throws everything away, spends everything, returns when he has not a franc left in his pocket to be comforted by Claire, again a pampered, wayward child, to be comforted by her father.

However, there is not an ounce of ambition with Andre. Unloved, perhaps broken, certainly became a social security doctor with the war in Algeria. This incomplete being lives humbly in a narrow life that suits him perfectly. André took on the color of his civil servant suit. He returns every evening, without exception, to decorate his suburban home. Where Henriette is waiting for him. Because in the shadow of this fraternal war there are two childless marriages – Pierre is the son of Jean-Pierre’s first marriage – and above all two wives.

sister in law

Victor’s daughters-in-law will play a central role in depicting the disintegration of the Vasarelys family. Alternatively, the trigger or catalyst of the conflict, André and Jean-Pierre’s spouses are exemplified by their first disagreement. André’s wife Henriette is depicted Robbery Lætitia Sariroglou (Fage), as a marauding, bitter and jealous woman of her sister Michèle Taburno, is a reference work on this issue.

It works, on the other hand, by Jean-Pierre, the “Barbie doll”, as he is called in the family, by marrying in a second marriage, deceiving his surroundings. Henriette has given up her teaching job by marrying Andre, whom she sees as a wealthy heir, and lives inconspicuously in the suburbs, Antony (92). Driving her husband Jean-Pierre’s Porsche, Michel settled in a loft decorated like a candy box in the Bastille. Rivals in avarice, brunette Henriette and blonde Michel have historically hated each other. In the battle for power at the foundation, they will first advance the pawns, then they will pull the strings of a court battle that began by accusing each other of stealing works of art.

When Victor Vasarely wrote his “project” in 1972, neither the 42-year-old Andre nor the 38-year-old Jean-Pierre were perfectly aware of the instructions of the future foundation. to actively participate. Andre is the treasurer and Jean-Pierre the secretary-general, but Victor Claire has been in charge of the Gordes museum for ten years since its inception.etc Business. Until Claire showed the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Until the tumor located in the spine changes Victor’s health.
Until 1981. Exhausted, Victor gives up and trusts his reins.
At the University of Aix-Marseille-3 Gordes and Aix, that is, the dean Charles Debbasch. The new president of the fund lwoe in the sheepfold.


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