Gustave Buchet’s La tour verges on geometric abstraction. The artist, drawn by increasingly rigorous, austere, minimalistic compositions and ever flatter swathes of colour in his paintings, took the principles of the Section d’or and Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant’s Purism as far as they would go. Buchet, like Alice Bailly part of the generation of French-speaking Swiss artists attracted by the Parisian avant garde, stood out for his radical artistic stances.
Here, the artist has chosen a single architectural object, giving an extremely simplified, geometric reading in disciplined brush-strokes, with a thin texture and a range of colours limited to shades of black over shades of red. Buchet is not interested in depicting the object per se, but in the experience of dynamically integrating a shape into a non-figurative space of neat horizontal bands of colour laid out like a paint swatch card.
Like in metaphysical painting, the absence of any explicit link between the object and its space triggers an uncanny feeling, albeit not as dominant here as the poetic mystery of an artist like Giorgio de Chirico. It downplays the rigidity of the composition. The spatial density that isolates objects from each other is as important for Buchet as their arrangement on the canvas.
Buchet’s geometric compositions were shown during his lifetime at solo and joint exhibitions in Paris and Brussels. Not until the 1970s, however, did the work he produced in Paris in the 1920s attract attention from critics and Swiss collectors, leading to a fresh appraisal of his place in the avant garde artistic movements of his day.
Gérard Buchet, Paul-André Jaccard and Robert L. Füglister, Gustave Buchet, exh. cat. Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Aarau, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Paris, Fondation Le Corbusier, 1978.
Gérard Buchet, Gustave Buchet, Lausanne/Paris, La Bibliothèque des arts, 1964.