Camille Bryen

1907, Nantes, France – 1977, Paris, France


Painting, 1961

oil on canvas, 62 x 50 cm

Acquisition: Gift

Reference: 01554


Born 1907 in Nantes, died 1977 in Paris. French painter, sculptor, draughtsman, and poet. He moved in 1926 to Paris, where he became involved with Surrealism. In 1934 he exhibited a series of automatic drawings, which were followed by images produced with the assistance of objets trouvés: in Street Object (1936; Paris, Pompidou), for instance, he placed a sheet of paper on the road and then drove a car over it so as to leave the imprint of the tyre tracks. He also produced assemblages in a Surrealist spirit. After World War II Bryen turned increasingly towards painting, through which he became a leading exponent of art informel. His works in this style included oil paintings of fairly modest dimensions, for which he used thick paint sometimes straight from the tube. The colour in these dense works is dark and subdued, reflecting the anxieties of the immediate post-war years. This sense was only gradually alleviated in the mid-1950s when more intense hues and a clearer separation between mark and ground emerged. Between the linear scaffolding more solid blocks of varied colour asserted themselves in the late 1950s. Although these blocks expanded across the whole surface and the lines became fine and dotted, this formal vocabulary came to characterize all of Bryen’s subsequent paintings. His later paintings, such as Patron Monet (1972; Paris, Pompidou), harked back to Impressionism in their overriding concern with the play of light and colour.