We first discovered Huguette's paintings in early 2020 while diving deeper into the main artists of post-war Paris. It only took one glance for us to see her immense talent as a painter, both on canvas and on paper. The gestures are strong, convincing, full of conviction and wonderfully unique. As a woman artist, Huguette's recognition did not benefit from the same energy as many of her male contemporaries. Today it is our duty to correct this phenomenon, and bring more visibility to artists like Huguette, who were essential to the elaboration of abstraction in the second half of the twentieth century.
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, Huguette immersed herself fully in the buzzing art world of Montparnasse and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Huguette became friendly with publishers, critics (Michel Ragon) and abstract artists. During the 1950s, the painter applied the full force of her art. The confidence of her artistic vocabulary made from stripes that hatch, streak, and give rhythm to her compositions. In 1949 and 1950, Huguette 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 d 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, Huguette joins 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, Huguette worked with tapestry for over decade after (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 of the movement.
Huguette's works now hang in some of the world's most prestigious institutional collection including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, and the Fondation Gandur pour l'Art, Geneva.
Country: France / Market: Established / Prices: 5 000 - 35 000 USD
All images and biography curtesy of Galerie Diane de Polignac, Paris