Canadian, b. 1925
Rétine 999, 1966
acrylic on canvas
168.3 x 168 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of an anonymous donor
Marcel Barbeau studied under Paul-Émile Borduas in Montreal, shared a studio with Jean-Paul Riopelle, and joined the Automatists in the mid-1940s. In the early 1960s, Barbeau moved to New York and began exploring optical illusion, specifically as it relates to the perception of light and movement. Rétine 999 destabilizes perception by highlighting flux as an inherent component of seeing. The illusion of depth is created not by using perspective to make the picture plane a window into another world, but by evoking undulations in the picture plane itself. While undeniably distinct from Barbeau’s earlier, more painterly Automatist work, Rétine 999 no less insists on moving outward and invading the viewer’s three-dimensional space.