Georges Collignon

Belgian, 1923-2002 Biography

Georges Collignon was a member of the radical COBRA group during the 1950s, and a leading Belgian abstract painter of the post-war era. Born in 1923 at Flémalle-Haute, he attended the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Liége. By 1947, he was already establishing a reputation. His early work was figurative with a surrealist tendency, and this fascination with the surreal-subconscious would develop into the abstract mysticism of the COBRA movement, through which Collignon found international acclaim.

Having already held substantial exhibitions in Liège, Brussels, The Hague, and Stockholm, Collignon arrived in Paris in 1949 and lived there until 1969. In 1950, at the age of 27, he obtained, alongside Alechinsky, the prestigious award, Prix de la Jeune Peinture Belge. The same year he exhibited in Les Mains Eblouiés at Galerie Maeght in Paris, which formed a group of radical young artists represented by Alechinsky, Corneille, and Doucet, who shared Collignon’s ideals. They became known as the COBRA group (COpenhagen, BRussels, Amsterdam), which was a reactionary movement seeking free expression of the unconscious, unimpeded by the intellect. Collignon considered himself originally to be part of a group known as Réalité, independent of COBRA, but with similar motives, and later, by solidarity with Pol Bury, they created a new group called Réalité-COBRA. He held his first COBRA exhibition at the Librairie 73, Boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris, organized by Michel Ragon. In 1951, five of his works were exhibited at the International COBRA Exhibition in Liége.

In 1952, Collignon was awarded the Prix Héléne Jacques in Paris, and during the next few years he received the Prix Lissone, the Prix Marzotto, and an award from the Guggenheim Foundation in 1960. In 1975, he was elected a member of L’Academie Royal des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique.

Prix de la Jeune Peinture Belge, 1950
Prix Héléne Jacques, Paris, France, 1952
Prix Lissone
Prix Marzotto
Guggenheim Foundation, 1960

Zimmergalerie, Frankfurt, Germany, 1952
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1952
Musée des Beaux Arts, Paris, France, 1955
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1956
Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland, 1957
Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, France, 1957
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1958
Madison Avenue, New York, New York, 1959
Monte Carlo, Monaco, 1959
Galerie Bernsten, Oslo, Norway, 1961
Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil, 1961
Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands, 1962
The Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1963
Seibu Hall Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 1964
Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1965
Venice International Biennale, Italy, 1970
Helsinki, Finland, 1972
Cologne, Germany, 1975

Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France
Musée d’Art Moderne, Brussels, Belgium
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil