Jean Hélion (1904 - 1987)


    Watercolour and pencil on paper laid down on board
Image 12 × 13.5 cm
Board 21.7 × 27.8 cm
Signatures and Inscriptions
Signed and dated ‘33 / Hélion’ (lower right), titled, located, dated and signed ‘Equilibre / Va 1933 / Hélion’ (on the board)

Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris

Private collection, since 1981


Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Glancing at the Century, 28 June - 20 September 1998, p. 108, ill.

Current location
Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
Floor 2nd
Tour Guide Code
Audio Guide

Equilibrium, presented here, is part of a large pile of drawings that Jean Hélion used to accumulate on the floor of his studio and to keep them “like a crop and a raw material reserve”; an integral part of the process of creation he followed. At that time, Hélion, founding member of the Abstraction-Création group, distanced himself from a style clearly inspired by Mondrian in order to venture to a more personal style of painting. The black lines, introducing until then a geometric tension in his works, were curved to orchestrate what the painter was seeking above all from that point on: equilibrium.

In Equilibrium, the curves outlined in pencil aim to counterbalance the two masses in green and red, suspended on a helical shape slightly tinted with blue. Contrary to oils, all of them drawn against a white or light grey background, the drawings show much more elaborate backgrounds. His hatching, despite its rational application, is subject to a clearly spontaneous and reckless movement. The yellow rectangle highlights the green form arising therefrom, and this “breath” is repeated thanks to the outline left intact. With the sheer force of his pencil, without suggesting either perspective or figure, Hélion managed therefore to create a composition that balances colours, shapes and volumes, all with a distinct, mathematical stroke.



Jean Hélion
(1904 - 1987)
First Name
Last Name
Couterne, France, 1904
Paris, France, 1987