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Auguste Herbin

"Art can only be monumental."


Notes of biography

Le Bateau-Lavoir shelter was miraculous for many artists in poverty. Patient and accommodating owner, the caretaker at heart, Ms. Coudray, who often wore a bowl of broth to the most unfortunate, has kept a good place in our memories. Auguste Herbin
Auguste Herbin, from a family of weaver, is born in Quiévy, small village near the Belgian border in 1882. The artist however regarded Le Cateau as his hometown since his parents are living there since 1883. He spend there all his youth, receiving his certificate of primary studies; he takes classes at the Municipal Drawing School, then at the School of Fine Arts in Lille in 1898.
The young man moves to Paris in 1901. He begins painting in the impressionist manner, participates in exhibitions in Paris (first exhibition at the Salon of Independents in 1905). His encounter with Picasso, Braque and Juan Gris at Bateau-Lavoir (1909) brings him closer to Cubism; from 1910, at the Salon of Independents, Herbin exhibits in the same room as Fernand Léger, Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger. The artist participates in the important exhibition of the Golden Section two years later (1912). Auguste Herbin gives an angular geometry to his forms and realizes his first abstract paintings in 1917. Herbin decides to abandon Cubism two years later since he considers Cubism out. Critics poorly receive his paintings on wood geometric in relief.
During the Great War, Herbin is assigned to the decoration of a military chapel at Camp de Mailly-le-Camp, and then to work in a stealth airplane factory (Many artists are affected in such services: Dunoyer de Segonzac, Andre Mare, etc.).
In doubt and following the advice of Leonce Rosenberg (art dealer, dealer, publisher and renowned collector), Herbin returns to a figurative style between 1922 and 1925, a period he later disavows. In 1927, he finally discovers the "pure" geometric abstraction of monumental trend, which is now his. In 1929, Auguste Herbin becomes co-founder of " Surindependents Salon”.
In 1931, along with George Vantongerloo, Herbin is behind the creation of the group Abstraction-Creation that results from the exhibition "Association 1940"; his painting, pure solid color becomes fully geometry formed by squares, circles and other figures. He spends these years in a painting entirely geometric made of simple shapes areas of pure color, alternating with undulating forms. At the end of the Second World War, Auguste Herbin is the co-founder of the Salon of New Realities, then become vice-president and from 1955, president.
In 1946 Herbin develops his "plastic alphabet", an essay of coding connections between letters, colors and shapes. In 1949 he presents his book "The non-figurative art, non-objective" where he exhibits his plastic alphabet, the book becomes one of the major reference in abstract painting of that period. Herbin proffers there his theories of color inspired in part by the color theory of Goethe.
In 1953 Herbin is struck by paralysis. He learns to paint with his left hand. His works are exhibited in museums around the world.
In 1960 at the age of 78 years, the artist dies in Paris. Following his sudden disappearance, a painting remains unfinished and is titled "Fin" (End).

Artists on display

The art and the artists display: proclamations, galleries, museums, personal or collective exhibitions. On walls or in shop windows, wise or rebels, posters warn, argue, show. Some were specially conceived by an artist for such or such event, other, colder, have only the letter.

Some were created in lithographic technic, most are simple offset reproductions. They are many those who like collecting these rectangles of paper, monochrome or in games of colours, in matt paper or brilliant, with many words or almost dumb.

We are happy also to be able to greet, by this pages, mythical galleries as those of Denise René, Louis Carré, Claude Bernard, Berheim Jeune, Maeght, Pierre Loeb and others.


Complete work(s)

Complete work(s)
All the complete works

Bibliographic track and more

To read about the artist :
  • « Auguste Herbin », Léon Degand, Ed. Basler Druck, 1955
  • « Pour une lecture d'A. Herbin », R. Bordier, in revue Cimaise n°110-111, 1973
  • « A. Herbin. Vendredi 1 », A. Belleguie et autres, Ed. Centre G. Pompidou, 1993
  • « Auguste Herbin », Geneviève Claisse, Ed. Ed. Grand-Pont, Lausanne, 1993
  • « Auguste Herbin, 1882-1960 », Collectif, Ed. Anthèse, Arcueil, 1994
  • « Auguste Herbin », coll., cat. d'expos, Céret, Cateau-Cambresis, Ed. Anthèse, 1996
  • « Herbin », G. Claisse, S. Lemoine, Les Ed. du Grand Pont, 2000
  • « Auguste Herbin, la beauté absolue », G. Claisse et autres, J.C. Lahumière Ed., 2007
  • Auguste Herbin », C. Berchiche et autres, Bernard Chauveau Ed., 2012
  • « Art abstrait géométrique - Des origines ….. », M. Tyl, Ed. Le Minotaure, 2017
To read from the artist :
  • « Almanach du groupe Abstraction-Création » de 1932 jusqu’en 1937
  • « L’Art non figuratif, non objectif », intro. P. Peissi, Ed. Lydia Conti, 1949
Website :
No website dedicated to the artist.

More :

Art movements

+ ABSTRACTION-CREATION / 1931-1938 / Etienne Béothy, Frantisek Kupka, Piet Mondrian, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Georges Vantongerloo, etc.
+ NEW REALITIES / 1946-1956 / Etienne Béothy, Marcelle Cahn, etc.
+ PURISM / 1920-1927 / Marcelle Cahn, Otto Gustav Carlsund, etc.
All art movements

See & discover

Beyond works currently in stock, it seemed to me useful to combine business with pleasure by letting you discover others works by artists in my gallery. These artworks, now sold or removed from our website, have been in our stock in the past.

These pages will undoubtedly make it possible for some of you to associate an image with its title or the other way round, for others it will be a good time to discover more on such and such artist. For the sake of confidentiality – the pieces being no longer available – we won't display neither their numbering or their price. For whatever reason, make sure to visit this amazing art database with to date 6441 online works just for your pleasure! Michelle Champetier

See & discover