Claude Viallat was born in Nîmes in 1936. After studying at the Fine Arts School (Ecole des Beaux-Arts) of Montpellier from 1955 to 1959, he went on to attend the one in Paris from 1962 to 1963. After completing his training, Viallat devoted himself to crating colorful, abstract paintings. He was furthermore one of the founders and members of the short-lived Supports/Surfaces groupe, whose first exhibition took place at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris (Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris) in 1969, after which there were only three joint events. The group’s ambition was to question the traditional methods of painting, in terms of supports and techniques, as well as to the intellectual reasoning these often provoked. Supports/Surfaces also prompted thinking about creative gestures as a fundamental component of art.
Claude Viallat developped a highly personal and singular style, a colorful, geometric and eloquent abstraction. The motif with irregular contours quickly became a kind of visual signature, a distinctive element of the artist’s work, endlessly repeated thanks to the use of a stencil across tarpaulins, Viallat’s favorite support – while some members of Supports/Surfaces preferred stretchers without canvas, pieces of fabric, or other recovered materials. The repetition of the biomorphic motif eventually enabled liberating the work of any subject, or rather, to make painting and color the work’s main subjects.