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Active among those artists who helped to shape the development of Modernism at the beginning of the XXth century, Auguste Herbin begins his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Lille in 1901. He moves to Paris two years later and exhibits his Neo-Impressionist style paintings at the Salon des Indépendants.
As early as 1906 we can notice shapes and colors progressively releasing themselves from the object’s representation and winning their artistic autonomy: this period in his work is said to be Fauve. In 1909 he moves to the Bateau-Lavoir, a block inMontmartre famous for the outstanding group of modern artists who lived there, including Picasso, Gris, Braque and Modigliani.
Here Herbin is immersed in the heart of the budding Cubist movement: he very quickly began to integrate Cubist elements in his production and as early as 1910 his work are hung in the same room at the Salon des Indépendants as Metzinger, Gleizes, and Léger. In 1917 he moves on to an abstract, geometric phase before gradually discovering Constructivism.
After the war he is the co-founder of the Salon des Réalites Nouvelles. Herbin's typical architectural approach and his color effects make his pre-war work widely known in the international art world. In 1949 he explains his totally new art in L’art non figurative non objectif. He adopts part of Kandinsky’s ideas, himself influenced by the Traité des couleurs of Goethe regarding color’s allegoric symbolic and mystic potential. For Herbin the emotional perception of shapes and colors is linked to given feelings. Also, the dynamic of such or such shape is closely linked to the energy of a given color.
Herbin’s work exerts, due to its exceptional achievement in serenity, a determining influence on the definition and development of the Geometric Abstraction. This work, austere in its spiritual conception and vivid in its infinite merging of shapes and colors, witnesses of the certainty Herbin shared with da Vinci that ‘la pintura e une cosa mentale’.