PHILIPPE HIQUILY, La Reorneadora, 2006
This week we have chosen to feature a remarkable mobile sculpture by the late French sculptor, Philippe Hiquily. La Reoneadora, number 8 from an edition of 8, conveys Hiquily’s playful, dreamlike approach, juxtaposing sensual contours with the sharpness of steel which creates a poetic sense of antithesis. We have wondered if the title itself is a piece of word play on the idea of a storm of thoughts - a portmanteau between the Latin for ‘think’ and ‘tornado’. Perhaps the ‘thoughts’ are suspended in loose formation, dangling in an effortless fashion around the base. Despite such spontaneity, Hiquily nonetheless retains formal equilibrium in this work – this work balances perfectly and also rotates . His use of weathering Corten steel also reflects his interest in recycled and unconventional materials, placing him comfortably in the tradition of New Realism, alongside Tinguely and Arman.
The sculpture captures Hiquily’s passion for indigenous and ethnographic forms which led him to relocate to Tahiti in 2006, the same year this work was produced. This was also just a year after the publication of Pierre Cabanne’s survey of Hiquily’s bronzes and mobiles, which was marked by two exhibitions devoted to these works at the Patrice Trigano gallery as well as the Yves Gastou in Paris. The present work is representative of Hiquily’s signature style comprising of biomorphic, monumental mobiles in weathering steel, as well as aluminium and brass, a practice he first started in the 1960’s. His work is characterised by a whimsical, surreal quality, although he refused to accept the categorization of Surrealism.
Philippe Hiquily was born in Paris in 1925 and attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1947 to 1951, during which time he attended the workshops of Jean Tinguely and Germaine Richier, for whom he made sculpture bases. The two artists evidently left a considerable impact on Hiquily’s work, and from that moment on, he worked solely with metals (iron, aluminium, copper, etc). He had his first solo show at the Galerie Palmes, in Paris, in 1954, followed by another in 1958 at the Galerie du Dragon in Paris. In 1959, he travelled to New York to present his sculptures at the gallery ‘The Contemporaries’, his first solo show in America. It was this exhibition which secured Hiquily’s trajectory as a significant French sculptor, as the Guggenheim purchased one of his works during the opening, propelling him into the New York artistic milieu, introducing him to Lichtenstein, Castelli, Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns to name but a few. Upon his return to Paris the same year he received the first prize at the Paris Biennale, and shortly after in 1963 Roland Penrose organised an exhibition for him at the ICA in London.
Hiquily was at the epicentre of the Parisian 1960’s post-war avant-garde scene which saw the birth of the Nouvelle Vague and New Realism – it was a time of great transformation and a crisis of confidence for the École de Paris, as previous modes of Parisian fine art practice were abandoned in favour of the breaking down of boundaries between art and life, expressed through collage, assemblage and a fundamentally more anti-establishment and tongue-and-cheek art. Hiquily’s role in these new movements is reflected through his appearance in one of Jean Luc-Godard’s short sketches from his series Paris vu par, where Hiquily plays himself. The film captures the spontaneous and erotic spirit of the Parisian Nouvelle Vague on the 1960s, and along with this, the essence of Hiquily’s work.
PHILIPPE HIQUILY (French 1925 – 2013)
La Reorneadora, 2006
Corten weathering steel mobile
48 1/8 x 16 7/8 x 28 2/8 in
122 x 43 x 72 cm
Edition 8 of 8
Private collection, France
This work is included in Jean-François Roudillon and Tara Hiquily, Catalogue Raisonné des œuvres de 1948-2011 de Philippe Hiquily, Editions Loft, 2012, Vol. 1, p. 409