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Notebook

Notebook, 1993-

APPROACHES - In The Words Of . . . .

From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988.

Auguste Herbin

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Art and Nature
1949 - Writings and Theories

For a long time, Auguste Herbin attempted to find himself through Cubism--he was Picasso's neighbor in the Bateau-Lavoir--and later by returning to a kind of Realism. But only now, at sixty-seven years of age, has he begun to blossom fully. The publication of his work Nonfigurative, Nonobjective Art at Lydia Conti places him squarely in the ranks of such theoreticians of abstract art as Mondrian or Kandinsky. Basing himself on Goethe's theory of color and Rudolf Steiner's theosophical thought, he creates a vocabulary that, poles apart from any type of Formalism, explains the creative force of his recent works. Below are his thoughts on the relationship between artist and nature.


There can be no work of art that is not, to some degree, related to external or internal nature. The degrees of these relationships are many and varied. From the faithful, strictly and immediately objective, superficial reproduction to the freest interpretations and transpositions and the most caricatural distortions, the nuances are endless. In these categories, there are very few works that could be considered living creations. These can be attributed to a few great artists who had intuition or a knowledge of the laws.

Creation is the product of the relationships of art not with aspects of the visible world but with the profound laws of nature, the fundamental laws. The relationships of art with aspects of the world engender still images only, which are greatly inferior to the living reality of those aspects. The relationships of art with the profound laws of nature create an original, spiritual reality, which enhances the richness of the visible world.

"Return to nature!" this piece of advice so often given to artists means nothing when put so simply. The artist does not exist outside nature. He does not leave it as one leaves a room and come back to it at his whim. We are nature itself, we are an integral part of nature, we do not have to return to it for we should not be leaving it.

Artists, perforce, always remain within the bounds of nature, which is at times only external, at other times only internal, or else in many more or less balanced combinations of external and internal nature. We have only to recall the recent example of Cézanne recommended translating external nature by geometrical volumes, cylinders, cones, pyramids, and so forth, in perspective and using blue for air. Van Gogh taught that color in itself expresses something, that painting tends to become subtle, more like music and less like sculpture. From Cézanne to Van Gogh, the idea of moving away from the external to the internal has made considerable progress.

A movement from external to internal and from internal to external must therefore be considered. This movement represents a long, sometimes painful struggle. In the process of this struggle, we can, by continually perfecting, achieve mastery of external and internal nature. This is the highest state, rarely attained by the artist, and the point at which the work expresses the purest reality.

Auguste Herbin, L'art non figuratif non objectif [Excerpt]

[An Excerpt From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988. p. 469]




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