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Auguste Herbin

( 1882 - 1960 )

Le Pont Royal


Auguste Herbin

( 1882 - 1960 )

Le Pont Royal

  • Medium: Oil on canvas

  • Signed: Signed lower right

  • Size: 24.00" x 29.00" (61.0cm x 73.7cm)

  • Framed Size: 32.00" x 37.00" (81.3cm x 94.0cm)

  • Dated: 1903

Additional information

  • Condition: Very good original condition

  • Provenance: Private collection - France (acquired in 1976)

    Treasure House - London - 2024

  • Literature: Genevieve Claisse, Herbin: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1993, p. 283, no. 22 (illustrated).
    Genevieve Claisse, Herbin, Les Editions du Grand Pont - illustrated in full page colour p.21

Other Artworks by Auguste Herbin

Auguste Herbin Biography

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Auguste Herbin began studying drawing at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lille in 1900-1901. In 1903 he went to live in Paris and in 1909 to a studio in the building known as Laundry Boat ( Bateau-Lavoir) in Paris.

During his apprenticeship his style was influenced by the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism of Cézanne and Van Gogh, as may be seen in his canvases exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1906. From that date his shapes and colours progressively free themselves from representation of objects to reveal their structural independence, perhaps echoing the first shake-up inflicted by Fauvism on the Impressionist legacy, and from this point his work is referred to as Fauve. Then he became involved in the first Cubist experiments. In 1910 he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in the same room as Metzinger, Gleizes and Fernand Léger. Such grouping may not have been pure chance but a sure sign of a distinctively French Cubism to be illustrated by other artists including La Fresnaye, Jacques Villon and André Lhote.

What is striking in the works from his Cubist period, called 'Prismatic Cubism', is that they are not at all detached from reality but a pictorial transcription of reality in all its detail and all its flavour. Despite this dependance on the real, he was one of the first painters in France, along with Gleizes, Valmier and Hélion and then Delaunay, Kupka and Arp, to move to pure Abstraction. From 1912 this new direction was noticeable and was evident in all his subsequent works. In 1916 he decorated a chapel at the military camp in Mailly in Champagne. From 1922 to 1925 he returned briefly to Figuration, with the Cubist depiction of Haute-Provence landscapes, yet submitted to rigorously geometric scansions.

Following this, in which the ultimate interrogation of the foundations of the creative act should be seen before definitive determination, he devoted the rest of his life, from 1926 until his death, to the creation of one of the most determined works in the history of Abstract art. The very personal way he embarked on Cubism finally led him to a completely new three-dimensional art, which he explained in his book L'Art Non Figuratif Non Objectif of 1949. This book expounds on the general principles and particular methods behind the conception of all of his works of the last 35 years, which constitute the Plastic Alphabet period.

Herbin took up some of the ideas proposed by Kandinsky in Du Spirituel dans l'Art et dans la Peinture en Particulier of 1911. Kandinsky had himself been inspired by Goethe's Theory of Colours on the allegorical, symbolic and mystical potential of colour. For Herbin, the emotional perception of shapes and colours passed through a synaesthetic drift which associates particular shapes and colours with precise sensations. Moreover, the energy of a specific colour is closely linked to the dynamic of a particular shape. The permutation of variations generates infinite combinations. Herbin himself said 'colour has in itself a spatial power. Certain colours express the depth of space (blues), others express the space in front (reds). Certain colours express the radiance from within to without (yellows), others from without to within (blues). Certain colours express mobility (reds, yellows, blues), others immobility (white, black and greens), others mobility and immobility depending on the setting (pinks and violets). These results may be modified by the relationship between the colours themselves.' To master this new idea he decided to restrict himself strategically to simple shapes and colours, heralding the primary structures of American Minimalist Abstraction: circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, diamonds and the basic colours: violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, black and white. He also drew on the forms of some letters of the alphabet, going as far as to create a word, yet refuting its evocative power. And it was on this seemingly reduced vocabulary and syntax that he based the biggest part of his work.

Through the activity of the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, which brought together international Abstract artists in the post-war years, and the Lydia Conti and Denise René galleries, which were entirely devoted to the promotion of Abstract art to the public, his work, with its exceptional accomplishment of serenity, had a determining influence on the definition and development of what was called Geometric Abstraction.

He participated in group exhibitions, including the Salon des Indépendants in Paris, from 1903 to 1906 and in 1910. In 1912 he participated in the historic exhibition Section d'Or in Paris, and at the 24th exhibition of the Berlin Secession. He also exhibited in May and August of that year at Der Sturm gallery in Berlin. In 1913 his works were shown at The Armory Show in New York. From 1917 the Galerie L'Effort Moderne, led by Léonce Rosenberg, showed his works alongside works by other artists. He was a significant figure in the history of Abstraction, manifested by the creation of the group Abstraction-Création with Vantongerloo in 1931. This group, following on from Michel Seuphor's Circle and Square ( Cercle et Carré), brought together all the Abstract artists working in or connected with Paris. He was one of the founders of Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in 1946, where he exhibited regularly and of which he was a director until 1955. In 2001 his work was shown in the exhibition Paris-Barcelone de Gaudí à Miró at the Grand Palais in Paris.

He had many solo exhibitions, the first at the Galerie Moderne in Paris in 1914, followed by exhibitions at Galerie Braun in 1930, Galerie Denise René in 1946 and from 1951 until his death, at Mak gallery in Amsterdam, at Major Gallery in London in 1934, in Brussels, Liège and Fribourg and at the Triennale in Turin. Since his death his work has featured in all retrospective exhibitions on the European birth of Abstraction, including Historical Aspects of Constructivism and Concrete Art ( Aspects Historiques du Constructivism et de l'Art Concret) at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris in 1977, and Abstraction-Création 1931-1936 at Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris in 1978. Solo retrospective exhibitions have also taken place in London (1961), Bern (1963), at the Céret museum and Musée Matisse de Quievy (1994) and at Galerie Denise René in Paris (1995).

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Le Cateau-Cambrésis (Mus. Matisse)
Marseilles (Mus. Cantini): Composition (c. 1932)
New York (Solomon R. Guggenheim Mus.): Pink Composition (1947)
Otterlo (Kröller-Müller Mus.): Still-life (1913)
Paris (MNAM-CCI): Air, Fire (1944); Polychrome Reliefs

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