Jean Hélion

Born 1904, Normandy, France

Died 1987, Paris, France


1921   Moves to Paris to work as an architect's apprentice.

1923   Begins to paint.

1925   An entirely self-taught artist, Hélion begins painting full-time. His initial works include still lifes, portraits, and landscapes. Later, he adopts a more abstract style.

1929   Becomes a member of the Groupe Art Concret; paints in an entirely abstract style from 1929-39.

1931-4   Co-founds and is a member of Abstraction-Création.

1932   First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Pierre, Paris, 1932.

1936   Moves to the United States, living in New York and Virginia.

1940   Returns to France to join the French Army.

1942   Returns to the United States after escaping as a prisoner during the war. Publishes a book on his war experience, entitled, They shall not have me.

1943   Begins painting again in a figurative style, concentrating on scenes of everyday life. His work during this time conforms more to abstraction and later would be more impressionistic in style and handling.

1951   Adopts a naturalistic style, focusing on figures and still lifes.

1960s   His style reverts to his works of the 1940s, but he abandons oil paints for acrylics.

1970s-80s   Focuses on creating large triptychs, while his subject matter adheres to his usual, idiosyncratic themes.

1983   Due to failing eyesight, he completes his last painting four years prior to his death.