Date 1934
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 104.5 x 180 x 2 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-254
Between 1933 and 1937, fifteen oil paintings on canvas were given this title by Jean Hélion, without any specific numbering to distinguish one from another. Apart from one vertical painting, they are all horizontal and vary in length from 72 cm to 180 cm. They can be found in the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg, the IVAM in Valencia, the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The retrospective in Paris at the Musée nacional d'art moderne in 2004-2005 showed six of these works. Other, very similar, paintings from 1934, like those in London’s Tate Gallery, the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the San Diego Museum of Art, were given the title Composition. All of these are from the period when Hélion was moving away from the influence of Theo Van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. Hélion broke from the orthogonal system and began to introduce curves and movement. The colour planes frequently represent rounded forms placed on a neutral grey background. In “La Réalité dans la Peinture” (Cahiers d’art, 9/10.1934), Hélion wrote: 'To create balance is to bring all the elements, groups of elements and fragments of elements together in a kind of continuity where there is no symmetrical or identical term between them, but where each one is incorporated in an accelerated and uninterrupted progression and where each term is unpredictable. Looking at a painting should first and foremost be a journey'. In this work from 1934, the background has lost its uniform character and the play of colours contributes to creating an effect of perspective. Some of the colour planes are not simply expressed through uniform coats of paint, but contain effects that give the impression of volume: perhaps the first step towards his rediscovery of figurativism. AC
Valentine Dudensing, New York; Lee Ault and Company, Inc., New York; private collection; Galerie Daniel Malingue, Paris; acquired in 1997.