Signed, lower left, in black paint: Herbin; label, on reverse on cardboard backing: Auguste Herbin (Fr. B. Quievy, 1882; ex Chicago 1932) Composition: The Bull, painted in 1933; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William B. Jaffe, Nov. 12, 1955; behind cardboard backing: Galerie L'Effort Moderne / Leonce Rosenberg / Editeur D'Art / 19 Rue de la Baume - Paris 8 / No 730H / Auteur Herbin / Date 1930 / Photo No
Auguste Herbin participated in multiple transformations of modern art. Arriving in Paris in 1901 (after two years at the École des Beaux-Arts de Lille), he had a front-row seat as Post-Impressionism gave way to Fauvism, Cubism, Orphism, Purism, and Surrealism. He practiced them all. Early on, he was a noted Cubist, exhibiting with Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, and Fernand Léger at the seminal 1910 Salon des Independents exhibition.
Despite its formal radicalism, Cubism had continued to portray traditional subjects: portraits, still life, and landscape. Throughout the teens, a growing number of artists jettisoned these last vestiges of earlier painting to focus on pure abstraction. Herbin was a leading proponent of this shift and by the early 1930s had formed a group of like-minded artists called Abstraction-Création in Paris. Composition represents a transitional moment for the artist. Though derived from the image of bull—whose eye, ear, and tail are readily visible—the overall composition depends more on the arrangement of colors and forms than on the anatomy of the subject.
From the 2019 exhibition Cubism and Its Aftershocks, curated by John R. Stomberg Ph.D, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director
A Moveable Feast: European Art Between The Wars, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York, May 9-August 1, 2004.
Churchill P. Lathrop Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 30-July 12, 2006.
Cubism and Its Aftershocks, Citrin Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-February 16, 2020.
Picasso, Braque, Leger and the Cubist Spirit, 1919-1939, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine, June 29-October 20, 1996.
Constance Schwartz and Franklin Hill Perrell, European Art Between the World Wars, Roslyn Harbor, New York: Nassau County Museum of Art, May 2004, 75 pp., color ill. p. 25.
Léonce Rosenberg (1879-1947), Galerie L'Effort Moderne, 19 Rue de La Baume, Paris; sold to Evelyn Annenberg Friede Jaffe Hall (1911-2005) and William B. Jaffe (1904-1972), New York, date unknown; given to present collection, 1955.
Genevieve Claisse, Herbin, Catalouge Raisonne de L'oeuvre Peint, Paris: Les Editions due Grand-Pont, 1993, no. 646.
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