This blog on Cortier is long due. I love Cortier and because his publications are scarce I almost forgot about him, but now that I have found the most important Cortier publication on his abstract works it is time to devote a blog to Amédée Cortier. The book is on his abstract works and even contains a chapter on Cortier written by one of all times best curators …Jan Hoet.
From 1936 to 1942, Amédée Cortier enjoys his training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. On the one hand, his oeuvre consists of paintings that he makes in various media (acrylic, oil, gouache, aquarelle, India ink or bistre, among others) on panel, paper or cardboard. On the other hand, he makes pen drawings, reliefs and models. Around 1950, influenced by the exhibition Le Cercle Artistique (Ghent, 1949), he applies himself to a short-lived geometric-abstract experiment, but decides after this to return to embrace his figurative visual language. He begins with painting rural scenes (1940), still lives and portraits of women (1950), and evolves towards a stark, simplified figurative language in schematic compositions. André Lothe (1885 – 1962) exerts an important influence on him with his Traité de la figure (1950) and Traité du paysage (1939). Around 1964 Cortier begins to paint resolute abstract and from 1966 – 1967 he favours colour over the relations between the forms. The transition to acrylic paint is to be understood in the same context. This medium helps him to heighten the intensity of his colours. His stark works are witness to a sense of natural law, but also leave room for intuition. Ultimately Cortier changes over to monochrome, by which he creates mutually coherent ensembles in the form of diptychs and triptychs. With his reliefs (1968), he evolves from the traditional painting to painting as object. Beginning in the 1970’s his work is completely dominated by colour, built up around a stark composition and a unity between colour and form. He gains public recognition with these works.
Cortier sees his own oeuvre confirmed in the work by the artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923 – 2015). Under the impulse of Peter Struycken (1939) he meets Kelly in 1976. As a member of Het Antenneke, his fascination grows for the Golden Ratio, an important compositional rule in his oeuvre. His friendship with Yves De Smet (1946 – 2004) is of crucial importance for his artistic career. He is not only a like-minded artist friend, but is also an important promoter and organiser of exhibitions dedicated to Cortier, such as Horizonnen & horizontalen (Horizons & horizontals) (1976). Cortier becomes a member of the Ghent group organised by De Smet called Plus-Groep, a collective of Ghent constructivists that are seeking the unity between form and colour. Via Plus-Kern – Centre for Constructive Design, established by De Smet and others in 1969, Cortier is actively promoted. This occurs through the medium of publications such as Plus-Nieuws, though also through participation in international exhibitions. In 1973 he is internationally recognised with the Sikken Prize.