Composition 1, 1966

by Henri Goetz

Print : aquatint, eau-forte

33 x 50.5 x 0.1 cm 13 x 19.9 x 0 inch

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Numbered and limited to 16 copies

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Hand-signed by artist


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Print: aquatint, eau-forte

Dimensions cm inch

33 x 50.5 x 0.1 cm 13 x 19.9 x 0 inch Height x Width x Depth


Not framed

Artwork sold in perfect condition

Artwork location: France

Work signed and numbered in pencil by the artist. Image size: 29.8 cm x 22.8 cm. Size of the work: 50.5 cm x 33 cm.
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Galerie Hus • France

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Henri Goetz, Composition 1

Henri Goetz

France  • 1909


The origins Henri Goetz's family is of French origin. Around 1850, his grandfather, Bernard Goetz, an Alsatian from the Colmar region, left France for the United States. A handyman, he invents during his long journey a sort of reflector in order to better light his reading, his main hobby, in a dimly lit cabin. This simple invention aroused the admiration of his traveling companions and he soon received a proposal from a first-class traveler to exploit this find upon their arrival in Philadelphia. In 1855 Bernard Goetz opened a reflector company, The American Reflector Company, which would later become The B. Goetz Manufacturing Company. He marries an American with whom he has five children. At the age of eleven, Henri's father, a youngest child, was expelled from his school, unable to learn spelling and therefore unable to pursue more advanced studies. Apprentice mechanic in the new bicycle industry, he participated in cycling races. An onset of tuberculosis prevented him from continuing his cycling career, but he began to write short stories during his years in the American West. Back in the East, he married the one who was to be Henri Goetz's mother. Childhood Henri Goetz was born in 1909 in New York, where his father ran an electrical equipment company. Only son, he received a strict education from his mother, for whom educational principles replaced affection. In 1916, his family left New York to settle in the suburbs, in Far Rockaway, Queens. Goetz finished primary and secondary school there, and then high school. His dream of leaving the family home came true in 1927 when he went to Boston to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to prepare for a career as an electrical engineer. It was at this time that he began to take an interest in art, and he took drawing lessons. He enrolled in Harvard University in 1929, where he took art history courses. He left university the same year to take painting lessons at the Grand Central School of Art in New York. One day, a painting student tells her about her personal experience of Paris and its workshops. This is enough to trigger Goetz's desire to leave for France. The apprenticeship years Arrived in Paris in 1930, he worked in the academies of Montparnasse (Académie Julian and Académie de la Grande Chaumière) and for some time in the studio of the painter Amédée Ozenfant. Goetz is interested in portraiture and the study of the nude. Its aim was to express the character of its models by an external and internal resemblance by means of an expressionist and very colorful invoice. He ardently mixes the cubist process and the expressionist color. “At the beginning I devoted myself only to the portrait, because the human figure seemed to me to contain a warmth that I had not found in my studies where I was preparing for a career as an electrical engineer. During these six years, the painting I learned in academies served me to create similarities and to deepen the intimacy of the gaze of others. »Goetz finds himself immersed in the artistic milieu of Montparnasse. Until then, his knowledge of painting did not go beyond Impressionism. His friend the painter Victor Bauer opened his mind to living painting. "I owe him the onset of the second stage of my evolution," says Goetz. He discovered the works of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, Paul Klee and Vassily Kandinsky. Thanks to Bauer, Goetz also became familiar with Freudianism, leftist politics, primitive sculpture, poetry and avant-garde music. He then continued the study of portraiture and began to paint in 1933 his first landscapes of simplistic and laborious construction, in a violent, dark and very thick material, in which we find both the combined influence of Fauvism and Cubism. His self-portrait of 1935 is constructed with forms strongly marked by cubism, but in a lively and pure color, borrowed from Fauvism3. From 1932 to 1934, Goetz lived at 16 rue Bardinet in Paris. In 1935, Goetz considered that the period of apprenticeship was over and felt ready to embark on the adventure of inventing his own painting. The same year, he moved to 19 rue Daguerre in Paris. In September, at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, he met Christine Boumeester, whom he married the same year. The couple became friends with the painter Hans Hartung, who was their next door neighbor on rue Daguerre: all three exhibited the same year at the Salon des surindépendants. The surrealist period As early as January 1936, Goetz began to paint non-figurative paintings4. A "non-figurative painting of pure invention" to express your inner universe, but without using objects from the real world. “If I choose the non-figurative world, it is because I believe that it is larger than the other. I believe there is more to be discovered in the unknown than in the known. If the limit of the known is the unknown, the reverse does not seem to me to be true5. This change will remain the only fraction in his work, which will develop more slowly. The decision to break with the visible world also marks the end of his apprenticeship period and plunges Goetz into the heart of current trends by committing his painting to modernity. Wanting to paint abstract, Goetz embarks on the exploration of his inner visions. However, while claiming the independence of his painting from the real world, his pictorial discourse does not correspond to the practice of abstract art developed in the years 1930-1940. The subject of his paintings depends largely on his imagination and not just on the arrangement of formal components. This change of orientation brings him closer to the surrealist world. His work develops in this dialectic of opposing currents and this is where his originality lies. An important event of this period is the friendship with the poet Juan Bréa and his wife, Mary Low, who are part of André Breton's surrealist group. It is the discovery of surrealism for Goetz. In 1936, Goetz ignored almost everything about this movement. His friend, the German painter Oelze Richard, spoke to him for the first time about Salvador Dalí. From that moment on, Goetz frequented the surrealists Raoul Ubac, Benjamin Péret and Óscar Domínguez. André Breton is interested in it (he meets Goetz in 1938), without however offering the artist to participate in the manifestations of the movement. The surrealist spirit which now permeates his painting will generate pieces such as the Masterpieces corrected in 1938-1939, which Goetz calls a “posthumous collective collaboration”. On the basis of the reproductions, Goetz will give free rein to the associative images suggested to him by famous works. It was when he discovered them in 1939 that André Breton found them the title of Corrected Masterpieces. They will be exhibited as a whole for the first time in 1975 by the Jean-Claude Bellier gallery in Paris, as part of the retrospective exhibition Henri Goetz. Goetz's painting, however, is never directed except by the symbolism of dreams: spontaneity and imagination always trump the interpretation of the subconscious. For the surrealists, the painting is the theater of mental operations; for Goetz, it is mainly the place of construction of an invented world, where the imagination reigns and the painting is nourished by its own sources. The difference is capital: for Goetz, everything rests on imaginative and inventive activity and not on psychology. “I believed I could create forms where my unconscious would join those of others. This approach was not foreign to that of the surrealists but its realization took place in a universe of abstract forms for me, but evocative of known objects, sometimes organic. This resemblance hardly interested me, which took me away from the surrealists. The space of my paintings resembled that of classical works. I was not considered an abstract artist and yet I felt closer to them1. The Second World War The start of the war found Henri Goetz and Christine Boumeester in the Dordogne. Thanks to his American nationality, Goetz cannot be mobilized. When the Germans arrived in Paris in June 1940, they decided to stay there, since America had not yet entered the conflict. But Paris quickly empties, and they leave for Carcassonne to join the Belgian surrealist group of René Magritte and Raoul Ubac. Two months later, they returned to Paris, in their new studio at 72 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, where they founded, with Christian Dotremont and Raoul Ubac, La Main à plume, the first surrealist review published under the Occupation. It was at this time that Goetz joined the Resistance. His real activity is the manufacture of false papers, his skill as a painter and his knowledge of printing techniques being put at the service of the fight against the occupier. He also prints leaflets and posters that he manages to stick to the walls thanks to a special technique, playing lovers with his wife Christine. In 1942 America entered the war. Christine Boumeester and Goetz are forced to hide, living in small hotels in Paris. Denounced by a Czech surrealist poet for their clandestine activity and as "important members of the Resistance", they were forced to leave Paris. In collaboration with Christine Boumeester, he illustrates La Femme Facile by Georges Hugnet. He also illustrated with ten lithographs the Explorations of Francis Picabia. They take refuge in Nice and rent a room with residents of the old town. Retired in Nice, the Goetz frequent Francis Picabia, Alberto Magnelli, Jean Arp, Nicolas de Staël. Decided to leave for America, they are prevented from doing so by the German occupation of the free zone and the closure of the United States consulate. Denounced again in Nice, they must leave for Cannes. Many small jobs in Cannes allow them to survive. After the explosion of a time bomb at their home, the Picabia lodge them while they find new accommodation. For Goetz, the friendship with Picabia "was stimulating, full of sparks of genius" [ref. necessary]. Marie Lluisa Borras, author of a reference monograph on Picabia in 1985, considers that “Picabia's return to abstraction is due to conversations with this young couple of painters, Christine Boumeester and Henri Goetz […]. Open and cordial, they were friends with many artists of their generation, Hartung, Vieira da Silva, Domela, Atlan or Raoul Ubac, with whom they had founded La Main à plume, considered to be the organ of the second surrealist wave. A job found at the town hall of Le Cannet allows Goetz not to go to Germany for the compulsory labor service. His activities in the resistance having ended, he remained in Le Cannet until the end of hostilities. The Liberation At the Liberation, Goetz returned to Paris, where he found his studio in rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. In 1945, René Guilly, known to Goetz through Ubac, invited him to do reports for the “painting” section of his weekly radio show Le Domaine de Paris on French Broadcasting Radio. In 1947, the filmmaker Alain Resnais shot Portrait d'Henri Goetz, his first film. It is a silent short film shot in 16mm, lasting 21 minutes. In 1949, Henri Goetz obtained French nationality. Abstraction Before 1947, a change took place in Goetz's drawings. He gradually detaches himself from the surrealist impregnation. He is moving towards a graphic design, the images and the constructions are refined, simplified, he gives more and more importance to the line and the line which will become the very material of the composition. It was not until 1947 that this trend spread throughout his art. There are no longer visions loaded by the unconscious and allusive forms: the primacy is given to the construction by the line, the pictorial technique is of a freer touch and we no longer find traces of the glazes or the clear -obscure. Greater importance is given to color and its expressive power. Goetz is freeing and exploring his palette. During the 1950s, Goetz's abstraction was similar to that of Hartung, Pierre Soulages and Gérard Schneider in the liveliness of graphic lines and the role of colored backgrounds7. From 1960, the outside world resumed its place in the elaboration of the works, based on suggestions offered by the landscape or the objects (Bord de rivière en Corse, 1965, oil pastel, private collection [ref. Necessary]). The abstract period from 1947 to 1960 is a period of transition that must be distinguished from abstraction as a constant of its aesthetic. During this period, the artist takes stock of all the means of expression that he experiments until he finds those that will renew his style. The space of Goetz's painting changes, it receives a new light. The space is no longer the stage curtain, it is a sensitive reality [not clear]. From 1950 to 1960, more and more geometrization asserted itself. The forms are stripped and finally separate from each other, in a richly colored space. Goetz, however, does not renounce depth in favor of surface. The volume treatment disappears but the backgrounds diversify: the colors brightened and new ranges appear. Abstraction diverts Goetz from the traditional technique and allows him to discover painting in its operation At the beginning of 1959, Goetz and Christine Boumeester left their studio in rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, too small for two artists . Their new residence is located at number 174 rue de Grenelle in Paris, in a large pavilion with a large garden. They set up two workshops there, one for Goetz on the ground floor and the other for Christine Boumeester upstairs. It has enough space to also set up an engraving workshop. The couple spend a lot of time, during the summer months, in their cabin in Le Cannet, without any comfort but with a magnificent view over the bay of Cannes. Goetz paints wherever he is. During one of these outings, his gait will experience a further change. He realizes that his painting receives influences from the outside, a light that irrigates his paintings and colors that permeate those he uses. He will repeat this experience by choosing a different workplace each time. The landscape in which he finds himself infiltrates his painting without his knowing it. He creates abstract paintings from nature. This is how his lyrical period begins. Almost involuntarily, Goetz finds the answer to the polemics and quarrels which radicalize the positions of the abstract artists, an answer which befits his work, and he thus escapes the dangers of formalism. This change changes everything: the composition, the colors, the technique. During this period being between 1960 and 1974, which one could qualify as “lyrical” because of the specific pictorial technique by sensitive touches, the vocabulary of Goetz is elaborated and constituted. All the influences of the currents of previous eras are absorbed and integrated into his work. From 1974, Goetz returned to a studio painting. "" I no longer need to look at nature: it is in me now. "[Ref. necessary]. After the death of Christine Boumeester in 1971, Goetz's work merges even more with his life. Her art now represents a fusion between the exterior and her interior universe. He moves away from the concrete world and his pictorial semantics reaches a cosmic and planetary dimension. Jean-Pierre Geay, his friend and poet, speaks of “figuralism” to designate this new way of representing space in Goetz. Suicide Very weakened, Goetz was hospitalized in Nice in August 1989. He committed suicide in the last hours of August 12, 1989, throwing himself from the fifth floor of the Santa-Maria hospital in Nice. He was buried on August 23 in the 12th division of the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris, alongside his wife Christine Boumeester, who died in 1971. In the letter he left for his relatives, Goetz wrote: “I believe my 80 years were not wasted8. »The engraved work His important engraved work, undertaken in 1940, follows the evolution of his painting. Its total production is estimated at some six hundred and fifty prints9. The largest collection of his prints is in the Department of Prints and Photography of the National Library of France. Four hundred and twenty-five prints9 from all periods of his graphic production are kept there: burins, etchings, lithographs and a few rare serigraphs. A virtuoso in the handling of traditional techniques, Goetz enriched engraving with new processes, such as carborundum engraving, a technique also known under the name of the “Goetz process” 10. From 1969, Goetz engraved using exclusively the process he created. Carborundum engraving Henri Goetz explains his technique in great detail in La Gravure au carborundum, published in 1969 by Éditions Maeght. In this postfaced work by Joan Miró, one of the first to benefit from Goetz's discovery, the author explains carborundum engraving using terms usually used in classical intaglio print - aquatint, soft varnish, burin, etching. In fact, the effects that this new technique can produce are sometimes very similar to traditional intaglio processes. It allows the best use of color and gives a greater richness of materials. But Goetz is clear, his intention is not to replace the existing techniques: carborundum etching must be added to the known processes and complement them. This new process has a very different pictorial quality: it reveals spontaneity and a direct way of creating. The technique allows interesting and diverse textures, a great wealth of plastic material, which is very well exploited by those who embraced this new process and took advantage of it to embark on the adventure of printmaking. Some have received this training directly from Goetz, they are friends like James Coignard, Antoni Clavé, AndréMasson or Max Papart. Others, his students, learned this technique at the printmaking workshop of his academy. The birth of this technique dates back to Goetz's adolescence. It was while having fun, with his friend Bernard Wager, building an oven that had already existed for many decades but that he believed he had invented, that Goetz discovered this material resistant to heat and pressure, this product which mainly serves as an abrasive. Much later, with the help of his friends Erich Schaeffer and Marc Havel, he used the characteristics of the carborundum to put it at the service of art: carborundum engraving was born. Various drying-hardening varnishes and glues can be used to fix the carborundum to the plate. The mixture is applied with a brush and on drying gives a very hard material. The plate is then inked, wiped clean and printed as an intaglio print. The use of metal as a support is not compulsory. All resistant and stable materials can be used. The ink is the same as for the intaglio. It must be made more fluid to allow inking with a brush. Wiping is done with tarlatan. Printing is done on an intaglio press. The pressure is set less strong than for the classic intaglio. The cover is more flexible, and consists of one or two foam rubbers and two felts. The carborundum technique can be combined with other engraving techniques. Pastel Oil pastel Sennelier In 1949, Henri Goetz asked Henri Sennelier to develop a new material for his friend Pablo Picasso. Picasso is looking for a technique that would allow him to express himself without any constraint, a kind of new material combining oil painting, for its pictorial richness, and soft pastel, for its ease of application. From this collaboration was born the Sennelier oil pastel, inspired by "JF Raffaëlli Oil Colors", oil painting sticks developed by the painter Jean-François Raffaëlli in the 1890s11. The pastels in heated oil In 1979 Goetz produced his first heated oil pastels on paper. By heating the support, the pastel stick melts on contact with the paper. Goetz thus manages to paint with the material itself, a colored material, in a direct manner and without any intermediary. During one of his many trips, Goetz learned the technique of papyrus making. On his return to Paris, he mastered the technique and made his own papyri. He uses it as a support for his pastels and drawings. Teaching [edit | modify the code] In 1949, began his teaching career. First in his workshop, which quickly became insufficient to accommodate many students. Goetz then transfers his course to Ranson Academy. Five years later, from 1955, he taught at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where he himself had been a student twenty years earlier. Very quickly, he was forced to open two workshops instead of one, due to the growing number of his students. In 1963, he began teaching during the summer at the American Conservatory of Fontainebleau, this school reserved for American students. After teaching in several academies, he moved to the former premises of André Lhote, at 18 rue d'Odessa (passage du Départ), where he founded the Goetz Academy. It was in his own academy that Goetz organized the teaching of engraving for the first time. On the other hand, Goetz will never directly teach engraving or its processes to the students of his academy. Others take care of it, mainly his former students, such as Lorainne Bénic, Canadian engraver, Denise Zayan, Parisian painter and engraver, Dikran Daderian, painter of Lebanese origin, Hélène Petter, painter of Franco-Swiss origin, or more still late Anne-Marie Raimbourg and Claude Raimbourg, both engravers. In 1974-1975, the demolition of the passage du Départ forced Goetz to transfer the academy to 17 rue des Lyonnais, in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. Dikran Daderian was then responsible and the academy became “Académie Goetz- Daderian ”. Two former students come to teach there, the painters Roger Bensasson and Claude Bourguignon. An engraving workshop also operates there. Goetz is not paid for his teaching work. He sees it as a human experience which is added to that of painting: "This teaching brings me at least as much as it brings to others and I like to say that I am among the best students in my workshops, because the more we knows, the more one is able to learn. »Henri Goetz teaches until 1984. Critical reception In the chapter he devotes to" the birth and development of the abstract ", taken from Regard sur la peinture contemporaine, the critic Gérard Xuriguera mentions the work of Henri Goetz : “Awakening fluid beaches, animated by gravitational traveling signs, in a style embellished with surrealist reminiscences, evocative of dancing and cosmic landscapes”.
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