Framed: 28 1/2 x 39 1/4 inches
Jean-Michel Atlan was born on January 23, 1913 in Constantine, Algeria. In 1930 he moved to Paris to study philosophy at the Sorbonne. However, in 1941 he launched himself as an essentially self-taught artist. The publishing of his poetry and its rhythmic elements had led him next to experiment with painting. Unfortunately he was arrested in 1942 for his Jewish heritage and for his political activism as part of the French Resistance or Underground. After the war and the occupation of Paris ended, Atlan had his first exhibition at the Gallerie Arc en Ciel. In 1946 he became a part of the CoBrA art group when his own studio on Rue de la Grand-Chaumière became a gathering place for the group. The Cobra Group was formed by Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Christian Dotremont, Asper Jorn, and Joseph Noiret, who all espoused a complete freedom of form and color in art and who opposed the Surrealism movement. As a result of the influence of the Cobra group Atlan's paintings at this point in his career consisted of works that displayed abstract and fanciful shapes that resembled animals. In 1955 his works which included Le Kahena, and Composition were exhibited at the Gallerie Carpenter. However, by 1956 Atlan had found his own particular style which consisted of strong, black consolidated lines that enclosed pastel colored areas of color. During the 1950's Atlan's works were well received in France, England, Japan and the United States. Atlan died of cancer in Paris on February 12, 1960 and was buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery. At the time of his death Atlan was considered an important member of the "Nouvelle École de Paris."
Untitled, 1959 is a spectacular example of Atlan's mature classical style of painting from the 1950's. One of the most personal representatives of Post War European Lyrical Abstraction, Atlan has given us a superb work which resonates with a number of influences that together create a crisp very nicely resolved picture, the kind that is coveted by knowledgeable collectors. Originally owned by Theodore Schempp, an accomplished dealer and insightful collector of great art, this picture contains deeply rooted reminders of Atlan's African heritage as well as telling signs from the Surrealist, Abstract, and Expressionist movements that coursed through post war Paris. Heavily influenced by Japanese calligraphic writing, Atlan has boldly articulated strong black looped lines that surround magnificent fields of strong blocks of color which recall the colors of the Mediterranean where Atlan lived. Browns and beiges of African sand and dirt as well as tropical reds and oranges that conjure up hot desert suns from Atlan's homeland of Algeria evoke organic and herbal memories of a land that the artist left behind for the environs of Paris. Magnificently constructed, these lines are forceful and create characters that seem to dance across the canvas. Such symbols form the basis of a new kind of abstraction for the artist, a symbolic language that is one with the artist and which reflects his own poetry that parallels and closely follows his unique "pictorial poetry". Atlan's abstractions here are rhythmic and purely "Atlanian" in their execution. This work is monumental in impact and scope. It readily stands as an excellent example of this highly regarded period by art connoisseurs. Atlan is an artist who, like Egon Schiele, Wassily Kandinsky and Marc Chagall had a clear and individualistic vision for his work which was pure and unwavering. His works are both daringly and convincingly conceived and are appreciated by astute experts of Post War European abstract art.
Theodore Schempp, New York
Acquired from the above, 1960