40 Items in this Learning Collection
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Accession Number


Auguste Herbin

Artist Nationality
French (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

33 7/16 in x 40 3/4 in x 1 3/4 in (84.93 cm x 103.51 cm x 4.45 cm);31 15/16 in x 39 1/16 in (81.12 cm x 99.22 cm);33 7/16 in x 40 3/4 in x 1 3/4 in (84.93 cm x 103.51 cm x 4.45 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry L. Winston

Label copy
March 28, 2009
After a Cubist period influenced by his studio neighbors Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, Auguste Herbin made his first purely abstract painting in 1917. Unfortunately, Herbin’s rejection of figurative painting proved too radical for both the market and the French Communist Party, of which he was a member, and in the early 1920s he briefly returned to a more representational mode of painting. Even so, he maintained a keen interest in color theory, and by 1926 or 1927 Herbin had returned to abstraction for good, going on to co-found the influential Abstraction-Création group in 1931. The founders declared their principles in the first issue of the group’s journal: they opposed “any element of explanation, anecdote, literature or naturalism.” They also explained the source of the group’s name:
Abstraction, because certain artists have arrived at the conception of non-figuration through progressive abstraction of forms from nature.
Creation, because artists have achieved non-figuration directly through a conception of purely geometric order…

Subject matter
This work was produced during a period when Herbin returned to abstraction after working in a more figurative style. In 1931, he would help found the abstractionist group Abstraction-Création with Georges Vantongerloo and Hans Arp, among others. This painting shows non-representional composition of colorful, flat, overlapping geometric and biomorphic abstract forms. He was interested in how the elements of form and color could be arranged to communicate meaning.

Physical Description
This painting has a series of flat, colorful, overlapping geometric and biomorphic abstract forms in greens, yellows, purple, reds, black, grey, and white. The painting is signed in black (l.l.) "herbin".

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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biomorphic abstraction
geometric abstraction
modern and contemporary art
oil painting (technique)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ FFW, Mezzanine ➜ M01 (Joan and Robert Tisch Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art)