Jean Hélion, the French painter who died at eighty-three in 1987, brought together in his copious and essential writing on art the theoretical authority of the intellectual and the fundamental insights of the craftsman in his studio. His writing extended throughout the five decades or more of his career.
Soon after the young painter’s arrival in Paris from the provinces, he began a literary-art magazine; he wrote polemical articles as a leading avant-garde abstractionist; he wrote about the great tradition of figure painting while still painting abstractions; and he wrote journals, notes on studio practice, pieces about the role of the artist in society, and much more. His prolificacy is made more extraordinary because he wrote in two languageshaving lived in the United States for some years, he wrote many of his articles in English for an American and British audience.
This volume collects, for the first time, the diverse writings by Hélion that appeared in print originally in English, including “The Abstract Artist in Society,” “Poussin, Seurat, and Double Rhythm,” “Objects for a Painter,” and many more. Double Rhythm is sure to become essential reading for art historians and painters.
About the Author
Jean Hélion was a noted French modernist painter and author. He was a member of the Free French Forces during World War II. His work later influenced Roy Lichtenstein, Nell Blaine, and Leland Bell. He died in 1987.
Deborah M. Rosenthal, consulting editor for the Artists & Art series, is a New York painter and writer. She is a professor of art in the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Rider University.
Table of Contents
Introduction Deborah Rosenthal ix
The Evolution of Abstract Art as Shown in the Gallery of Living Art 03
From Reduction to Growth 15
Seurat as a Predecessor 29
Poussin, Seurat and Double Rhythm 45
Avowals and Comments 63
The Abstract Artist in Society: Interview with Jean Hélion 73
Ten Frenchmen on a Prison Farm 87
Escape Through Germany 117
Colors and Walls 149
How War has Made Me Paint 151
The Making of a Picture 157
Untitled Text Included in "Eleven Europeans in America" 163
Notes from a Letter to the Author 171
Objects for a Painter 191
Art Concret 1930 209
New York City 221