Jean Pfaff

Switzerland / °1945 /
“Colours are nomads of the light.”

When Jean Pfaff (Basel, 1945) wrote this sentence in 1995 he was already well-known, recognised for his monochromatic, non-objective paintings based on theories of colour and the effect of light on the emotional perception of painting.

After beginning his studies in the 1960s at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Munich and later at the Hochschule der bildenden Künste, Hamburg, with Max Bill and Mavignier, Pfaff furthered his analytical investigations on the physical, physiological and psychological perceptions of colour. Sympathetic to the “Radical Painting” movement emanating from New York in the early seventies with artists like Brice Marden, Robert Ryman and Joseph Marioni, Pfaff embarked on a voyage that took him by the “drip paintings” of Jackson Pollock, the monochromatic works of Ad Reinhardt, Rodchenko or Lucio Fontana, to finally reach “a structure that is based on optical and tangible qualities of paint and colour and that aspires to transform the perception of pictorial reality.” *

In 1992 Pfaff moved to Catalonia, settling in a small town in Empordà where he combines his work as a painter with architectural projects, collaborating with architects in performing interventions that encourage dialogue between color and space. His delicate chromatic alterations to the architecture allow for interaction between the interior and exterior space, enriching the ambience of the building, projects for which he was received international acclaim. Jean Pfaff’s painting has been exhibited in major galleries and museums in Switzerland and Germany since 1977; in Spain, his work was last seen in 1999.

* Elizabeth Grossmann, Pinturas, Curator, Kunstmuseum des Kanton Thurgau, 1992 (
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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