Framed: 44 ¼ x 37 in.
Jacques Germain is an internationally acclaimed abstract painter of the post-war School of Paris. As a young art student he had the privilege to work with Léger at the Académie Moderne (1931) and Kandinsky at the Bauhaus (from 1932 onwards). It wasn't until after WWII though that Germain first exhibited his work, at the Salon des Surindépendants of 1947. After a short initial figurative period, he soon began to explore abstraction, which seemed natural to him, geometric at first, before decamping to the Abstraction Lyrique group with Mathieu, Bryen, Riopelle, and Lanskoy, which formed the European equivalent to the American Abstract Expressionists. Here he enjoyed the freedom to paint with heightened gestural expression and developed the powerful resonant style magnificently employed in the present work painted in 1962 with which he achieved international success. His paintings, executed in this fluid manner, consist of an explosion of small rectangular surfaces, mostly in shades of white, lit by touches of vibrant color. Germain's contribution to the continuing re-interpretation of painting established him amongst the leading post-war painters:
"The same French lyrical use of colour which found its great champion in Delaunay, has new exponents in Bazaine, Estève, Lombard and Germain" (M. Seuphor: A Dictionary of Abstract Painting, London, 1958).
Jacques Germain achieved international status in the 1950's and featured in contemporary art exhibitions around the world until his recent death in 2001. In 1949 he started to exhibit at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, an annual Salon founded in 1946 dedicated solely to the display of abstract art. Germain also participated frequently in the famous yearly "École de Paris" shows at Galerie Charpentier alongside Atlan, Hartung, Soulages, Poliakoff, as well as in important group exhibitions both in France and abroad, most notably Le Mouvement dans l'art Contemporain (Musée de Lausanne, 1955), Exposition Internationale de l'Art Abstrait, to celebrate the publication of Michel Seuphor's seminal book on abstract art in 1957, Ecole de Paris (Mannheim, 1959), and the Irish International Exhibition of Modern Art (Dublin, 1962). He also held regular one man shows at the galleries Maeght, Pierre, Michel Warren, Kriegel, André Schoeller, Jacques Massol and Dina Vierny (for a comprehensive list of exhibitions please refer to the monograph Jacques Germain, Paris, 1990).
Perhaps the most lucid account of what motivated Germain's conception of art was published by the famous writer and critic Roger van Gindertaël:
"The poetry of Germain is dominated even in its smallest details, and above all through the steadfastness of his personal expression, by an interior movement in tune with the great rhythm of nature, not visually remarked and translated in a picturesque way, but intuitively perceived and manifested by a participating pictorial act. Germain's œuvre is among those, very rare still, in which the conceptualism of abstract art as well as the conventions of figurative art are overrun to find once more, in an uncontrived way, the profound meaning of nature" (R. van Gindertaël in Les Beaux-Arts, Brussels, 1959).
The artist's work is represented in numerous important museums of modern art including the Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Musée d'Art Moderne (Paris, Ville), and the city museums of Lille, Bremen, Bergen, Lausanne, and Oslo.
After the Second World War a school of radical thought became centralized in Paris from which a new generation of artists emerged, known as the Jeune École de Paris. These artists gravitated to the newly liberated “City of Lights” from all over Europe. The vibrant and provocative nature of their work reflected the turmoil of this post-war society which sought a new language and aesthetics that would provide expression to their loss of faith in the traditional values of the preceding generations.
Against this background of a post war society Jacques Germain developed his own unique avant-garde signature style of painting based on the theory of “lyricism” which attempted to find and to express the “profound meaning of nature”. Germain believed that within the natural world a tune or rhythm existed, and he wished to explore the expression of this theory in his paintings.
The expression of this theory is revealed in Composition 1989, a stunning example of Germain’s mature work. On this black canvas JacquesGermain created a waterfall of vivid blue, red, and white rectangular shapes defined by quickly applied strokes to create a vibrant surface bursting beyond the veritable confines of the painting. Many of these rectangular forms which form the “core” of the canvas are seemingly ignited and explode. They enliven and electrify the picture, a personal technique of Germain’s which heightened the expression of the work and created a most intense design flow. As all is not chaos in nature, the same holds true for Germain’s works which have patterns, textures, and rhythms that contribute to this physical sense of movement radiating from the composition which is unencumbered by any pre-conceived formulas. These lively charged depictions of small intense rectangular surfaces coupled with the quick arcs and rapidly applied strokes would become Germain’s signature style of fluid, lyrical painting and would help to establish him as one of the leading post-war painters.
Jacques Germain was an internationally acclaimed abstract painter of the post-war School of Paris. As a young art student he worked with Fernand Léger at the Académie Moderne (1931) and at the Bauhaus in 1932 with Wassily Kandinsky whom many historians credit with the birth of abstraction. After having developed his artistic talent for several years Germain was forced to join the French Army when France declared war on Germany in 1939. Even though France surrendered to Germany in June of 1940, Germain remained a prisoner of war until the end of the war in 1945. Upon his return to France Germain had a premier exhibition of his work at the Salon des Surindépendants in 1947.
After an initial brief figurative period Germain soon began to explore abstraction which seemed more “natural” to him. At the outset his abstractions were geometric in conception and execution but soon he joined The Abstraction Lyrique group with Mireille Mathieu, Camille Bryen, Jean-Paul Riopelle, and Andre Lanskoy, who formed the European equivalent to the American Abstract Expressionists. Their art was no longer limited by any geometric standards. At last Germain was unencumbered by any pre-conceived formulas and enjoyed the freedom to paint with a greater and heightened expression and a more intense fluidity. It was through this “lyricism” that Jacques Germain attempted to find and to express the “profound meaning of nature”. He believed that within the natural world a tune or rhythm existed, and he wished to explore the expression of this theory in his paintings. Jacques Germain achieved international status in the 1950's and was featured in contemporary art exhibitions around the world until his recent death in 2001.
Private Collection, Paris, France
Private collection, CT