Alfred Manessier: Composer in Colors is a part of the current roster of travelling exhibitions from Bowden Collections.  The collection includes twenty of Manessier’s lithographs, all of which give the impression that he really was a composer.  The French artist’s work was labeled Lyrical Abstraction (Abstraction Lyrique) in the Post World War II art world of the mid 1940s.  Manessier painted with a quality of life and movement, images like music playing before your eyes.

Le Message de L’ange

The strokes of the paintbrush appear to vibrate.  Both dark and bright shapes have energy.  In some images, there is a sense of push and pull between the two.  In “L’emprionnement,” dark and muddy shapes bar colors that refuse to stop dancing under oppression.  This is this balance of dire darkness and hope throughout the exhibition.  Images composed from the lighter end of the spectrum don’t lack the strength of these depictions of conflict.  The energy of the colors is bold and hangs in a different kind of balance.

Le Torture


L’apparition a Marie de Magdala

While Manessier was not a musical composer, his sense of energy in colors may have come from his work as a stained-glass artist.  Manessier’s windows were, like these lithographs, non-figurative.  The curving black outline of each pane was filled with an ambiguous shape.  The effect of sunlight shining through the panes energizes the colors and their sense of movement.

Learn more about the Bowden Collection and where exhibitions, like this, are travelling next here.