- Jean Hélion, from abstraction to figuration | Read more
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Born in Couterne, in Normandy, Jean Hélion studied architecture in Paris.
From 1920, he moved towards the geometric abstraction movement associating with Mondrian, Léger and Calder.
In 1930 he founded the Abstraction-Creation group with Arp, Herbin, Delaunay, Gleizes, Kupka… After a first trip to the United States in 1932, Hélion became one of the major players in abstraction and exhibited in New York.
In 1939, he abandoned abstract compositions and turned towards figuration before joining the French Army.
On his return to the United States in 1942, his work was exhibited in the Paul Rosenberg Gallery and in the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery. He married Peggy’s daughter, Pegeen. But his evolution towards figuration upset the public who did not follow him in this figurative route.
His works became a wonder at everyday things and are an explosion of acid colours. The Renou and Colle, Louis Carré and Karl Flinker Galleries frequently exhibited his work. Many retrospectives paid homage to him such as in the Grand Palais in 1970 or Pompidou in 2004.
In 2011, Galerie de la Présidence dedicated an exhibition to Hélion ‘From abstraction to figuration (1912-1946)’ reuniting 50 watercolours.
He is considered today to be the precursor of the 1980’s figurative artists.