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Jean Hélion

European Art

This canvas dates from around the time that Jean Hélion, a leading proponent of abstraction in the 1930s, began to coalesce his arrangements of colored shapes and gradated volumes into more explicitly figurative representations. Composition evokes some of the subjects that would soon preoccupy him: bust-length, suited men wearing brimmed hats, viewed from the front, back, or in profile. Hélion said of his figural and abstract pictorial modes: “They are the same thing, or nearly. Planes, volumes, spaces. Strong colors, fine tones, the rhythms of all nature. You can even, if you like, mix my figures and my abstractions
MEDIUM Oil on masonite
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1939
    DIMENSIONS 15 x 11 in. (38.1 x 27.9 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS Verso: "HAUT/Hélion/17 Jan. 39/(Va)"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    ACCESSION NUMBER 1991.283.2
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Lucile E. Selz
    PROVENANCE Before 1991, provenance not yet documented; before December 1991, acquired by Lucile E. Selz of New York, NY; December 13, 1991, gift of Lucile E. Selz to the Brooklyn Museum.
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    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Jean Hélion (Couterne, France, 1904 – 1987, Paris, France). Composition, 1939. Oil on masonite, 15 x 11 in. (38.1 x 27.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Lucile E. Selz, 1991.283.2. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1991.283.2_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1991.283.2_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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