Auguste Herbin was a leading figure of Modernism in the 20th century and a pioneer in the rise of abstract painting. Born in Nord, France in 1882, Herbin studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lille before moving to Paris permanently. When he settled into the Bateau-Lavoir studios in 1909, he had no idea that this move would alter the course of art history. He shared his studio with fellow artists Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Fernand Léger. It was an incubator for new ideas and processes that propelled 20th century art toward the abstraction of Cubism.
Herbin became known for abstract compositions in bright, buoyant colors. His early career involved him working through many artistic influences, and the final abandonment of figurative painting came after viewing microphotographs of crystals and plants.
Herbin created his “alphabet plastique,” a concept described in shapes, music notes, and letters. These forms became the language of his paintings. His techniques and approaches evolved throughout his career, culminating in a deep understanding of color and form and a synthesis of the aesthetics of several major artistic styles and movements.
From 1953, Herbin was paralyzed on his right side, limiting his ability to work, although he continued to paint the remainder of his life with his non-dominant, left hand. His works are in the permanent collections of major museums and institutions including the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Tate Gallery, London, Céret Museum of Modern Art, France, and Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Belgium.
The class has been concentrating on drawing skills by doing portraits, landscapes and still lifes, but this week we explored the leap to abstracts.
The focus was on using tools and repurposing items from the environment to create art. They used templates from recycled containers and children's magnetic blocks in shapes, combined with primary colors for their lively Herbin inspired collages.