Huguette Arthur-Bertrand French, 1922-2005


Born in 1920 in Écouen, Huguette Arthur Bertrand spent her childhood in Roanne (center south of France) and settled in Paris shortly after the war.

She attended the Académie libre de la Grande Chaumière. A fellowship allowed her to spend a year in Prague between 1946 and 1947 where she had her first solo exhibition. In the essentially masculine artistic landscape of Post-war Paris, she immersed herself fully in the buzzing art world of Montparnasse and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Huguette Arthur Bertrand became friendly with publishers, critics (Michel Ragon) and abstract artists. During the 1950s, the painter applied the full force of her art and the confidence of her artistic vocabulary made from stripes that hatch, streak, give rhythm to her compositions. In 1949 and 1950, she participated in the key exhibition Les Mains Éblouies (The Dazzled Hands) at the Galerie Maeght.

Huguette Arthur Bertrand regularly participated in the main salons of abstract art in Paris, at the Salon de Mai from 1949 until the late 1980s, at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles until the 1990s, and at the Salon d’Automne. In 1956 Huguette Arthur Bertrand won the Prix Fénéon and participates in the Festival de l’Art d’Avant-Garde, a major event held at Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse in Marseille.

Her works began to travel abroad: a solo exhibition was held at the Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts in 1956, and crossed the Atlantic: in 1956, the Meltzer Gallery in New York organized a solo exhibition, praised by critics, then a group show the year after. In 1957, the painter participated in the exhibition New Talents in Europe at the University of Alabama. In 1958 and in 1960-61, she exhibited at the Howard Wise Gallery in Cleveland.

Close to the art critic Michel Ragon, the artist integrates his circle of friends: Pierre Soulages, Hans Hartung, Gérard Schneider, Zao Wou-Ki, Victor Vasarely, among others.
Together they worked on the collection “La Peau des Choses”, a portfolio of prints published in a limited edition by Jean-Robert Arnaud in 1968 in honour of their friend Michel Ragon. Starting in 1971, she worked with tapestry for over a decade (she received commissions from the Mobilier national) and became interested in monumental mural painting. At the turn of the 1980s, her gestures became more and more liberated, and calmer, summarized in subtle white traces, airy like a breath on the canvas.

Huguette Arthur Bertrand died in 2005, after experiencing one of the most successful artistic productions of lyrical abstraction.


© Diane de Polignac Gallery / Astrid de Monteverde

Translation: Jane Mac Avock (adapted)


Selected Collections

Aalborg (Danemark), Museum of Modern Art

Angers, Musée Jean Lurçat et de la tapisserie contemporaine

Dunkerque, Lieu d’Art et d’Action Contemporaine (LAAC)

Geneva, Fondation Gandur pour l’Art

Minneapolis, Walker Art Center

Nantes, Musée d’arts

Oslo, Fondation Moltzau

Paris, Musée national d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges-Pompidou

Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale

Paris, Mobilier national

Paris, Centre national d’Arts plastiques (CNAP)

Québec, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Québec

Saint-Étienne, Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Étienne