Antoine Graff's destiny was not predetermined. Certainly, born of a painter's father and a founder's grandson, the fusion of the arts was inevitably to operate in him. And what can we say about this patronymic that sounds like an aka! But his career was written somewhat differently, between coloring, treading and folding.
Little Antoine began to paint at the age of 8. At 14, he received his first commission! In 1954, he left his native Alsace and joined the Beaux-Arts in Paris... but only to continue his truancy. His intuition led him to the studios of Zadkine and Lhote. The sculptor Zadkine likes the feet of Graff's statues. The painter Lhote considers him a great draughtsman... Graff adored by two masters - and not the least! An umpteenth clowning, no doubt.
At 26, he lives from his creations, supported by his two gallery owners. However, he enters a war of fire against himself, defining himself only as a "skilled".
So he created his own company of prestigious windows for pharmacies and achieved a success that would make the most experienced businessmen jealous. But Antoine Graff could not be satisfied with just window dressing. He started printing advertisements. Soon, his know-how attracted artists. His business gradually shifted from printing to art publishing. As a final master stroke, he had the luxury of creating the gallery "La Main bleue" in Strasbourg in 1974, where he exhibited Alechinsky, Bram van Velde and Télémaque.
One morning, he finally had his revelatory vision. It is that of the paper enveloping the lump of butter that unfolds in exuberant, exciting and poetic folds. But he still had to search for five years to find out what he could get out of this vision. For Antoine wants to return to the source, not to be "skilled" but simply to make.
To crumple and to un-crease. The fold is his toy, that he irritates, that he agitates, that he shakes. Possible symbol of a subconscious which expresses its need to take refuge in the protective cracks. In his work, this folding is overpowering. The same one at the origin of the formation of several European massifs including those of Germany and the Vosges.
Antoine Graff likes to speak of the chance of the fold, of the imminent moment when the chain is put in place. His philosophy is abysmal and his practice - artisanal - refutes plastic and pictorial eloquence. No, there is no commitment, no figurative, no abstract.
His motto is simple, so simple: "The presence of crumpled paper is everything."