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GÉRARD HAAS (France, Paris 1922-1996 / act: Paris)

Gerard Haas Born on 24 December 1922 in Paris, Gérard Haas was educated at the Lycée Louis le Grand. He fled Nazi-occupied France in 1942 only to be interned for about a year by the Fascist government in Spain at the Camp de Miranda military base. After his release he relocated to Casablanca, where he was trained in the artillery corps and in aerial intelligence. He saw action in North Africa, Italy, and Germany, and was awarded the Legion d' Honeur, the Croix de Guerre and the Medail des Evadés.

Haas was graduated in electronic engineering in Grenoble , and worked, initially, as a sound engineer's assistant. Later he served as editor-in-chief for Éclair-Journal newsreels (1946-1969) and Gaumont Actualités (1969-1976). He worked for Pathé-Cinéma first as producer (1976-1982) and later as director of productions (1985-1991). In between the Pathé years (1982-1985) he served as director of audio-visual productions for the Musée des Sciences et Technique, La Vilette.

Throughout his life Haas was transforming his passion for technology into electronic sculpture, transferring there his urge to communicate art. This art is particular to Haas as a result of his biography. Having fallen seriously ill at the age of seven, Haas was confined largely at home. His favourite refuge became his eighteen-year-old brother's course-books on physics and mathematics. Consequently, at the age of eight he had already created his first electronic object, and was already familiar with all the formulas of his creations in the future. In essence, art for Haas began as his means to break from isolation at home and to communicate with the outside world. Eventually he saw his electronic sculpture as a mediator between mankind and the universe.

Haas' diverse career background has enabled him to become one of the most fascinating artistic personalities of the twentieth century. Reputed to be an electronic sculptor with a passion for modern technology, he made machines of space and time that shine from darkness with the aid of electricity. During the 1970s he created the Mask series, with their electronic look, radiant eyes, and transistor heart. Onward from 1980 his investigation of the space-time continuum led Haas to make the Clock series, with their LED (Light Emitting Diode) timers and labyrinthine circuits. Most appealing about Haas' machine-art is that, despite their physical dimension and material fabric, their working remains an enigma vain to solve.

In his artistic pursuit, Haas sought to describe the human condition in the age of digital technology and computers. In contrast to prior inert and inactive artworks, his are invested with a life that relies on technology. Supplied with electricity, Haas' sculptures turn on by drawing light patterns, projecting light, and lighting up in response to our presence or the sounds we make. This kind of art then exists either independently of or in response to its environment and ourselves. Dr. Iliopoulou-Rogan suggests that these artworks are more of 'companions' rather than objects. She writes "they transmit messages of friendship and communication, seeking to get in touch with our human side, exciting our imagination and curiosity, without short-circuiting with our reason" [Iliopoulou-Rogan 1978].

The individuality of these sculptures is astonishing. They vary from one another in every possible aspect, including material, color, size, composition and format. From a collection of over three hundred pieces, ACG Art is honored to keep thirty-three pieces in its collection. These pieces were donated to The American College of Greece from the Haas bequest. They represent Haas' respect and love for the institution, an admiration that was inspired by his Greek wife, Angeliki.

Gérard Haas presented the following personal exhibitions: Gérard Haas, Galerie d'Art Poliplano, Athens (1978); Gérard Haas: Sculpture, Galerie Sculpture, Paris (1980); Gérard Haas: Chronogalaxie, Galerie d'Art Poliplano, Athens (1986); Gérard Haas, Galerie Jean, Paris (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1995); and Gérard Haas: Timescapes, The American College of Greece, Athens (2001). He also took part in the following group exhibitions: L'Art Science, Galerie Iris Clert, Paris (1972); Les Masques, Xiane Germaine, Paris (1973); Les Masques, Lauzenberg, Brussels (1973); L'Unique Objet, Galerie Iris Clert, Paris (1974); Salon International d'Art Contemporain, Paris (1974); Grands et Jeunes d'Aujourd'hui, Grand Palais, Paris (1974); Vente aux Encheres Pour Chypre, Galerie Galliera, Paris (1975); Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain - FIAC, Grand Palais, Paris (1976 & 1977); Foire d'Art, Basel, Switzerland (1978).

Gérard Haas died in Paris on 26 July 1996.

[Megakles Rogakos 12/2004]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
ILIOPOULOU-ROGAN, DORA Gérard Haas 1978 Galerie d'Art: Poliplano, Athens [Greek & French]
FERRO, MARC Les Horloges Haasiennes in Gérard Haas: Chronogalaxie 1986 Poliplano & Galerie Facchetti, Athens, Greece [Greek & French]
ILIOPOULOU-ROGAN, DORA Gérard Haas 1991 Galerie Jean, Paris [French]
POPPER, FRANK Gérard Haas sculpteur électronique 1995 Galerie Jean, Paris [French]
DELIGIORGIS, STAVROS & ELIOPOULOU-ROGAN, DORA Gérard Haas: Timescapes: LED Chronotopes 2001 Deree College Library, Athens [English]

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