JULES PASCIN (1885-1930)
JULES PASCIN (1885-1930)
JULES PASCIN (1885-1930)
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JULES PASCIN (1885-1930)
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JULES PASCIN (1885-1930)

Homme et femme (recto); Les robes claires (verso)

JULES PASCIN (1885-1930)
Homme et femme (recto); Les robes claires (verso)
stamped indistinctly with the signature 'Pascin' (Lugt 2014a; recto lower right); stamped again 'Pascin' (verso lower right)
oil on canvas
20 x 16 1⁄8 in. (52 x 41 cm.)
Painted in the United States in 1915
Acquired by 1966, and thence by descent to the present owners.
Y. Hemin, G. Krohg, K. Perls & A. Rambert, Pascin: Catalogue raisonné, peintures, aquarelles, pastels, dessins, vol. I, Paris, 1984, nos. 215 & 216, p. 125 (illustrated).
T. Krohg & E. Napolitano, Pascin, vol. I, Paris, 2017, nos. 1084 & 1087, pp. 338 & 339 (verso illustrated p. 338 and recto illustrated p. 339).
Berkeley, University of California Art Museum, Pascin, November - December 1966, no. 9 (recto illustrated and titled 'The Couple'); this exhibition later travelled to Los Angeles, UCLA Art Galleries, January - February 1967; Chapel Hill, Ackland Art Center, February - March 1967; Waltham, Rose Art Museum, April 1967 and New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, May - June 1967.
Paris, Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol, Pascin: Le magicien du reél, February - June 2007, pp. 101 & 231 (recto illustrated p. 101).

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Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Department

Lot Essay

In the years prior to the First World War, Jules Pascin began to investigate the problem of perspective. Turning initially to drawing, he began to employ unconventional vantage points in his compositions and restrict his colour palette. Such choices emphasised the quality of Pascin’s line; he was, noted the critic Palmer D. French, a ‘superlative draftsman’ (P. French, ‘Jules Pascin’, Artforum, February 1967, p. 43). ‘But this must be qualified since his draftsmanship was hardly flawless by academic criteria. It was of draftsmanship in the purely artistic stylistic sense – the subjectively evocative nervous sensitivity of the “kinesthetic line” – that he was an inspired master indeed’ (ibid.). Such graphic virtuosity can be seen in his painting Homme et femme, 1915, which conveys a complex interplay of line and form.
Arriving in Paris some ten years earlier, Pascin quickly immersed himself in the city’s avant-garde scene. It was there that he honed in on what would become the defining subject of his oeuvre, that of the figure. Clothed or unclothed, seated, standing, reclining, or upright, Pascin was entirely captivated by the human form. ‘He grasped,’ observed French, ‘as few artists have, the fact that the body from the neck down can be almost as expressive of personality, mood and individual character as facial features and quite as amenable to interpretive treatment’ (ibid.). Faceless yet ornamented, Homme et femme reinforces French’s argument. Although absent any physical characteristics, much can be said about this jaunty couple who confidently stride through the streets.
Sensing catastrophe and attuned to the news, Pascin left Brussels in July of 1914, stopping first in London before sailing to New York on the RMS Lusitania. He arrived on 8 October and would remain in the United States until 1920. Max Weber and Maurice Sterne helped him to adjust to life in his new home, encouraging him to paint and introducing him to several artists and critics. It was during these years that the artist met Albert C. Barnes, the influential collector who would later acquire several works by Pascin, and where he would paint Homme et femme.
With its angular forms, simplified lines, and simultaneous perspectives, the painting deftly draws on Cubist theories, and while in New York, Pascin completed several paintings in this style, the majority of which he destroyed. Homme et femme attests to the ‘ease’ at which Pascin embraced Cubism, resulting in what Bertrand Lorquin called a ‘remarkable composition’ (B. Lorquin, ‘Pascin, l’efant prodigue’, in Pascin: Le magicien du réel, exh. cat., Musée Maillol, Paris, 2007, p. 17).
When Pascin finally returned to Europe, he showed at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Indépendants, and had exhibitions at Bernheim-Jeune as well as Berthe Weill’s new gallery on the rue Lafitte. Although aware of and respondent to many movements and artistic shifts, Pascin remained, above all, faithful to his own style. As Paul Morand wrote, ‘If art has no country, no-one is more of an artist than Pascin' (P. Morand quoted in F. Fels, ‘Introduction,’ in Drawings by Pascin, Paris, 1967, p. 8).
On the reverse of Homme et femme is a second painting, Les robes claires, depicting two women leaning against a table.

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