- Jean Hélion
- Signed Hélion and dated 36 on the reverse
- Oil on canvas
- 44 7/8 by 57 7/8 in.
- 114 by 147 cm
Acquired from the above
New York, Gallery Valentine, Jean Hélion, 1936
Los Angeles, The Putzel Gallery, Jean Hélion, 1937
Richmond, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Hélion–Daura, 1942
New York, Art of this Century, Jean Hélion. Paintings 1933-1939, 1943
Paris, Galeries Nationales d'Exposition du Grand Palais, Hélion: cent tableaux, 1928-1970, 1970-71, n.n., illustrated in the catalogue
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris & Lisbon, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Hélion: peintures et dessins 1925-1983, 1984-85, no. 51, illustrated in the catalogues
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou & Barcelona, Museo Picasso, Jean Hélion, 2004, n.n., illustrated in the catalogue
Jacqueline Hélion, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint de Jean Hélion, (http://www.helion-cat-rais.com), no. 529
Abstraction-Création championed abstract art in an effort to counteract the Surrealist group’s emphasis on figuration throughout the 1920s. Meyer Schapiro spoke of Hélion’s important role in this counteractive movement, naming him “the outstanding abstract painter of the young generation of American and European artists. Hélion was a central and tireless proponent of non-representational art" (as quoted in Jean Hélion. Works 1935-1939 (exhibition catalogue), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2004, p. 190).
Encouraged by this supportive milieu of Abstraction-Création artists, Hélion moved away from the rigid austerity of Neo-Plasticism and adapted his painting to a sensuous abstraction that incorporated curved lines and volumetric forms. A striking example of the artist’s distinct brand of abstraction in the 1930s, Équilibre is composed of a series of overlapping and interpenetrating curves, bars and lines. The innovative amalgamation of form, space and color imbue the canvas with a sense of movement. The composition, with its vibrant overlayering of forms, ultimately demonstrates why Hélion’s work remains, as Meyer Schapiro declared, “one of the most highly esteemed and best controlled of its genre” (ibid., 190).
Équilibre belongs to the series of pictures that the artist created during his time in the United States (1936-1940), and was completed in his studio in Rockbridge Baths, Virginia, a property that remains with his family today. This picture has remained with the artist's family until the present day.