Olivier Mosset is a swiss painter best known for his series of monochrome paintings, each featuring a black circle, of which he produced hundreds.
Everything began when he became a member, in 1966, of a Parisian group called the BMPTcoming from the first letter of its founders: Daniel Buren, Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier and Niele Toroni. The collective questioned notions of authorship and that the art object was more important than its authorship. In other words, they suppressed subjectivity and expressiveness in favour of practical systems, such as the utilization of neutral, repetitive patterns. Therefore, between 1966 and 1974, Olivier Mosset produced more than 200 identical oil paintings representing a small black circle at the centre of a square white canvas.
In pursuit of formal rigor and the physical roots of paintings, Mosset’s art tends to be direct, suppressing figuration, subjectivity, symbol and metaphor in a practice that both contains and rejects the dialectical history of painting. Associated with conceptual abstraction, his work represents pure colour and shape, inciting open-ended physical experiences of surface, scale and pattern. In Mosset’s art practice, painting is an object in the world rather than a zone for reflective subjectivity: “Instead of being a representation of reality, the art object has become its own reality. By dissolving its content into its form, it has become what it is. The object is its subject: representation of its own representation”.
Mosset is also known for his sculptures and especially his creation of Toblerones that he created in 1993 and which are meant to refer to the Swiss anti-tank barrages (for which the candy is also named). In 2012, he also created stage designs for a ballet at the Paris Opera Ballet, called Sous Apparence.
Olivier Mosset inspired many artists, especially neo-geo artists from the 1980s, including Peter Halley who asserted a socially relevant, critical role for geometric abstraction, cited Mosset as an influence.
His work can be found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Migros Museum in Zurich, among others. Olivier Mosset currently lives and works in New York and Tucson, Arizona.