“my paintings have a short life, but they have several of them” – Claude Rutault
Perrotin New York presents a collection of four historical works by Claude Rutault, marking the artist’s second show at Perrotin New York and his fifth show with the gallery.
For this exhibition, titled de-finitions/methods from the 70s, the gallery is proud to reintroduce Rutault’s famous works, which have not been on view since the 1980’s. These de-finitions/methods have been included at the Biënnale van de kritiek, Antwerp, Belgium (1979); documenta 7, Kassel, Germany (1982); and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (1983).
In 1973 Rutault made a radical decision to paint his canvas the same color as the wall on which it was hung. Since then, Rutault’s work has dealt with painting as a concept in itself, rather than painting as a finished and autonomous object. He takes the space in which his works are presented into account, allowing them to evolve according to their installation space. The canvases and colors are constantly changing depending on where the work is shown. Rutault’s practice is the writing and issuing of texts indicating protocols and procedures called “de-finitions/methods,” according to which a gallery, collector, or institution—known as the “charge-taker”— agrees to “actualize” a given work. Rutault explains the practice: “the hyphen after ‘de-’ eliminates or at least lessens the ‘finition,’ i.e., the definitive, frozen authoritarian nature of the word, which doesn’t suit my work.” Rutault’s paintings are no longer unalterable objects, but rather works in progress.
The first of his de-finitions/methods, created in 1973, provided the seed for hundreds of unique works to follow. This exhibition will feature de-finition/method 14: repainted  / de-painted , which reads “a simple diptych: two paintings hung very close together. a canvas from before 1973 is repainted the same color as the wall. to its right, a canvas also from before 1973, unpainted. before repainting or unpainting them, the original paintings have been photographed in color as well as in black and white. the photographs will not be shown, but will be kept available for consultation.” This work highlights the ability for Rutault’s works to be reborn, as the charge-taker must repaint existing canvases.
Claude Rutault considers himself a painter, although he does not physically touch paint or his canvases, nor does he oversee their production. Rather, he allows his de-finitions/methods to guide the works, keeping himself at a distance from their actualization. As he describes, “I write paintings.”
Claude Rutault has taken part in multiple projects in the United States. He was asked to take part in a residency at MoMA PS1 during the winter of 1978-1979. Also in 1979, his definition/method 107: 2 plans/ 3 dimensions was presented at Peter Downsbrough’s space in New York. In 1998, Rutault participated in a group show, titled Premises, at the Guggenheim Museum, Soho, New York. And, in 2015, his de-finition/method: listening to painting/looking at music was actualized at the Festival Soluna by the Meyerson Symphony of Dallas, Texas.View of the exhibition “De-finitions/methods from the 70s” at Perrotin New York. © Courtesy of the artist & Perrotin. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli