Jean Gorin
Year, Birthplace 1899, France
Year, Place of death 1981, France
Jean Gorin was from a modest family – his father was a shoemaker and his mother ran a small hotel and restaurant – and from the end of the war until 1922 he attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, intending to become a drawing teacher. When his plans failed to come to fruition, he settled in Nort-sur-Erdre, close to Nantes, found a job in order to support himself and began to paint. In 1922, in Paris, he discovered modern painting, from Paul Cézanne to cubism. Albert Gleizes’ book Du Cubisme (1921) had a particular impact on him. In 1925 he visited the Pavillon de L’Esprit Nouveau at the International Exhibition in Paris, though the purism of Amédée Ozenfant and Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, featured in the journal L’Esprit nouveau, held little interest for him. The following year he saw his first neoplastic composition by Piet Mondrian and an elementarist composition by Theo van Doesburg. After reading a copy of Georges Vantongerloo’s pamphlet, L’Art et son avenir he started to correspond with Mondrian and Vantongerloo and was so struck that he decided to meet Mondrian as soon as possible, that same year. The two painters became friends. Gorin, who soon afterwards produced his first neoplastic works, became acquainted with Michel Seuphor. In 1930 he took part in the first exhibition of the Cercle et Carré group, recently founded by Seuphor, an art critic, and at the opening he met Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber, Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Freundlich, Joaquín Torres-García and Vantongerloo. He now began to explore the application of neoplasticism in architecture and the decorative arts and to work in polychrome. In 1930, he created his first neoplastic relief (spatio-temporal composition), which attracted Mondrian’s interest. Mondrian considered that this work went further than painting in expressing neoplasticism, and had more in common with a sculpture or an architectural work than a simple easel painting. Gorin abandoned painting until 1944. In 1931, he was involved in creating the 1940 association of artists, where he showed his first relief alongside Mondrian and Van Doesburg. In the same year, he took part in the recently created Abstraction-Création group of abstract painters. In 1932, he was invited to the USSR to study art and architecture. He met Naum Gabo while travelling through Berlin and, later, the constructivist architects Moïsseï Guinzbourg and Constantin Melnikov. His place at the heart of the abstract movement was confirmed and, in 1934, he became a member of the committee of the Abstraction-Création group. After the war (during which he spent three years as a prisoner), Gorin produced his first reliefs using planes set in space (spatio-temporal constructions) and continued with his architectural studies. He took part in various exhibitions of abstract artists in Europe and the United States (Art Concret, Galerie René Drouin; Salon des réalités nouvelles, groupe Espace) and wrote prefaces for various exhibitions, including Mondrian, De Stijl and their Impact at the Marlborough Gallery in New York, in 1964. The following year, a retrospective of his work was held at the Musée des beaux-arts in Nantes; in 1967 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and in 1969 at the Centre national d’art contemporain, in Paris. Not only was Gorin Mondrian’s greatest French disciple, he also pushed the principles of neoplasticism furthest, through the introduction of the relief – which he developed until it became a true wall sculpture – and through the introduction of the circle, and then the oblique line, while always adhering to the strict horizontal-vertical principles of pure neoplasticism. AC