As a member of the ‘Figuration Narrative’ movement of 1960s and 70s, Ivan Messac and a circle of artists including Peter Klasen, Erro, Jacques Monory, Peter Saul and Vladimir Velickovic, formed a group around the art critic Gérald Gassiot-Talabots, and designed the movement’s prints and posters. ‘Figuration Narrative’ was distinct from the more dominant Pop Art of the time in its overtly political leanings and its uncompromising engagement with societal issues. They sought to explicitly highlight key political issues and conflicts: the Vietnam War, the Carnation Revolution of Portugal and the civil unrest which erupted in May 1968 in France.

Although Messac’s work shared aesthetic concerns with Pop Art - bold colours, text and contemporary iconography - he did not limit his subject matter to consumer irony. He also designed sets and costumes for the Ballet Théâtre Contemporain, and in the early 80s began experimenting in sculpture. His marble work of the time gained considerable acclaim, latterly making it into Alain Monvoisin’s esteemed Dictionnaire International de la Sculpture Moderne et Contemporaine (Dictionary of International Modern and Contemporary Sculpture) in 2008. Messac’s interests over the decades are clearly drawn from many sources, looking to literature and Greek mythology, history and social critique, including publishing a crime novel and producing an exhibition dedicated to the Russian Futurist playwright, poet, artist and actor Vladimir Mayakovsky. It is, however, his interest in painting that has most endured.


Ivan Messac was born in 1948 in Caen, France. His work can be found in permanent collections such as the Dôle and Orléans Museum and FNAC (the French National Fund for Contemporary Art). Messac participated in exhibitions such as ‘Mythologies Quotidiennes’ at the Musée d’art Moderne de la ville de Paris, the Paris Biennial and ‘Sigma’ in Bordeaux, and at Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris and La Patinoire Royale Brussels, as well as the numerous public commissions he has produced internationally. He is represented by the Laurent Strouk Gallery, France.