Jean-Claude FARHI France, 1940-2012

 

Farhi grew up in Bogata, to where his family moved from Paris in 1946. At the age of 17 he settled in Nice to follow drawing classes, and was given his first one-man show there in 1959. His close association with the sculptor César started then, leading to his becoming César's assistant in 1968 and establishing a productive artistic exchange throughout both careers.

 

Farhi's experience in war-torn Algeria where he spent his military service changed his visual approach - aerial views from helicopters altered his spatial awareness, maturing into a more abstract and distanced view of reality. He returned to Nice to continue his art career and explored the properties of plastics - the medium by which his reputation would be formed worldwide. 

 

The Italian manufacturers of Plexiglass developed a personal relationship with Farhi from 1969 to 1973, and he was soon acknowledged as the master in this medium. The 1970s was the period of Farhi's most sophisticated sculpture in methacrylates - stable and inert resins such as Perpsex and Plexiglass. This synthetic material allowed Farhi to mould, colour and carve his sculptures to perfection. As transparent as crystal, and responding to lapidary-like precision cutting and polishing, the material allowed (as Farhi pointed out) the viewer to see into the interior of the sculpted object. Prismatic steles or totems, slashed with coloured layers in vibrant, sometimes acidic colours, became his favoured forms as were his circular sculptural discs. 

 

The impact of his geometric and optical compositions garnered commissions from influential collectors. Elie de Rothschild's private dining room at his bank in Paris, his yacht Bibo, and Gunter Sach's legendary pop-art apartment in the Palace Hotel in St Moritz, were all decorated with contributions by Farhi. His work is also housed in international public and private collections: Museum of Modern Art, Munich, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, and Philippe Durand-Ruel among many others.