Auguste HERBIN

Making visible that which has always been almost invisible is critical for human improvement. So speaks the artist who has renounced representation of the object; nothing can distract the viewer any longer from the effort he must make if he wishes to understand pure works of art.


A pioneer of cubism alongside Braque and Picasso at the Bateau-Lavoir, Auguste Herbin is also one of the main founders of geometrical abstraction and the “spiritual father” of color. In his work, the artist describes shapes with a precise and geometric design that forces color to the very periphery. He preserves the violence and daring of bright color, unlike his neighbors at the Bateau-Lavoir. Herbin’s subject remains legible because he does not deconstruct his shapes. He flattens, geometrizes, and simplifies. During the 1940s, Herbin invented a visual alphabet: a method of composition based on a repertoire of 26 colors, each corresponding to a letter and geometric shapes, as well as to a sound. For example, the letter "i" is associated with a circle and a triangle, the color orange, and the musical note d. Thus, Herbin's paintings are based on a word that gives the painting its title according to interrelations between letters, shapes, colors, and musical sounds.