Jean Hélion, ‘Composition Abstraite’, 1936, Rosenberg & Co.

About Jean Hélion

A seminal figure in the 1930s Parisian avant-garde scene, Jean Hélion rose to prominence as an abstract painter, producing series exploring states of visual equilibrium. Initially influenced by Piet Mondrian’s linear compositions, Hélion’s style evolved as he embraced gradated volumes and curved, overlapping planes, as illustrated by Rouge Brilliant (1938). Along with Theo van Doesburg, he furthered the Art Concret movement, which grew out of De Stijl and Futurism and valued objectivity over symbolism and personal associations. WWII, in which his service begot capture and imprisonment, presented a stylistic rupture; thereafter, Hélion filled large canvases with monumental figures in quotidian situations, working radically against the modernist trajectory. “A man who has been locked up for a few years knows the value of reality,” he explained. “What can you communicate but the problematic meaning of the world?''

French, 1904-1987, Couterne, France, based in Paris, France