Description

    OLIVIER DEBRÉ (French, 1920-1999)
    Rose d'automne, 1981
    Oil on linen (faille)
    Inscribed verso in brush and black paint: O. Debré / faille / Rose d'automne / 81
    Written on the top of the stretcher in pencil and chalk: ATANOR
    Written on the middle stretcher bar in black magic marker: 51 AV CARNOT - CACHAN (94)
    55-1/2 x 59-1/2 inches (141.0 x 151.1 cm)

    PROVENANCE:
    Collection of the artist;
    Private collection, California.

    This elegant color-field painting is a mature work by the Parisian-born Olivier Debré, one of France's best-known abstract painters of the postwar era, whose large-format works include the stage curtain at the Comedie Française.

    Mr. Debré's painterly abstractions, which he described as ''opposite to the geometric abstraction of the Cubism of Cezanne and Picasso,'' involved daring splashes of color applied with thick brush strokes intended to create a mood of sensuality and poetry. ''For me, painting and emotion are inseparable,'' he said at the time of his last major retrospective in Paris in 1995 at the Galerie du Jeu de Paume on the Place de la Concorde. ''I can only paint with feeling.''

    Eager to evoke emotion through abstraction, he created what he called ''signes-personnages'' (figurative signs) and ''signes-paysages'' (landscape signs) that seemed to hint at recognizable forms. He used this approach in the monumental works for which he became most celebrated, starting with the vast ornamental paintings he did for the French pavilions at World's Fairs in Montreal in 1967 and in Osaka, Japan, in 1970. In the present work of 1981, the muted greens, roses, and grays evoke the wistfulness of the end of autumn, when the vibrancy of the last blossoms fades, and the days and nights grow colder.


    More Information:

    This elegant color-field painting is a mature work by the Parisian-born Olivier Debré, one of France's best-known abstract painters of the postwar era, whose large-format works include the stage curtain at the Comedie Française.

    Mr. Debre's painterly abstractions, which he described as ''opposite to the geometric abstraction of the Cubism of Cezanne and Picasso,'' involved daring splashes of color applied with thick brush strokes intended to create a mood of sensuality and poetry. ''For me, painting and emotion are inseparable,'' he said at the time of his last major retrospective in Paris in 1995 at the Galerie du Jeu de Paume on the Place de la Concorde. ''I can only paint with feeling.''

    Born into a prosperous professional family (his brother, Michel, became Prime Minister under President de Gaulle), Olivier Debré displayed an early interest in art and architecture and in 1939 studied briefly under Le Corbusier. In 1940 and 1941, he exhibited his paintings in Nazi-occupied Paris and in 1942 became part of Picasso's entourage.

    After the war he became part of a new generation of School of Paris painters, who included Pierre Soulages, Nicolas de Stael, Serge Poliakoff, and Maria Elena Vieira da Silva. Through his experiments with large-format painting, he developed a profound and lasting fascination with space. ''For me painting is nothing more than time and color turned into space,'' he wrote in an essay called ''Space Imagined, Space Created.''

    Eager to evoke emotion through abstraction, he created what he called ''signes-personnages'' (figurative signs) and ''signes-paysages'' (landscape signs) that seemed to hint at recognizable forms. He used this approach in the monumental works for which he became most celebrated, starting with the vast ornamental paintings he did for the French pavilions at World's Fairs in Montreal in 1967 and in Osaka, Japan, in 1970. In the present work of 1981, the muted greens, roses, and grays evoke the wistfulness of the end of autumn, when the vibrancy of the last blossoms fades, and the days and nights grow colder.

    In the 1980s and 90s, he decorated the stage curtains not only of the Comedie Française but also of the Hong Kong Opera, the new Shanghai Opera, and the Theatre des Abbesses in Paris. In 1997, he also designed the decor and costumes for a ballet by Carolyn Carlson presented at the Bastille Opera.



    Condition Report*:

    Minor paint losses at upper left, upper right, lower right, and lower center.  Original canvas and stretcher, unlined.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2008
    11th Thursday
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