JEAN HÉLION 1904-1987


Jean Hélion, born Jean Richier, is a French figurative painter.
In 1921, he settled in Paris where he worked as an apprentice draughtsman for an architect for whom he explored Paris. His first paintings, dated 1922-1923, are representations of Parisian streets, portraits, and landscapes. His encounter in 1925 with the collector Georges Bine was decisive and led him to devote entirely to painting. In 1926, he hosted the painter Torrès-Garcia who introduced him to Cubism and modern painting. Impregnated by Piet Mondrian and Théo van Doesburg's neoplastic aesthetic, Jean Hélion's first paintings are governed by geometry. Sometime later, he moved toward a more abstract style and laid down in 1930 - alongside van Doesburg, Léon Tutundjian and Otto Carlsung- the foundations of the Abstraction-Creation group, which arose a year later. At the end of the 1930's, Jean Hélion returned to figuration.
At the beginning of the 1940's, he moved to the United States in order to escape war. There, he married Pegeen Guggenheim (Peggy's daughter). His artworks of the period are characterized by figuration and topics inspired from daily life.
First little appreciated by the public, Jean Hélion gained success as illustrated by his participation in the 1965 Paris Biennale. Nowadays his work is considered as having paved the way for German new Fauves.