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Quentin, Bernard Mauricelocked

French, 20th century, male.

Born 22 June 1923, in Flamicourt.

Painter (including gouache), watercolourist, draughtsman, sculptor, lithographer, illustrator. Designs for tapestries, designs for mosaics, designs for stained glass, stage sets.

Les Mains Èblouies.

Bernard Maurice QUENTIN: signature or monogram

Bernard Maurice QUENTIN: signature or monogram

Bernard Maurice Quentin arrived in Paris around 1940, where he studied painting, sculpture and architecture at the École des Arts Decoratifs and the École des Beaux-Arts. After World War II, during which he took part in the resistance, he became acquainted with Picasso through his visits to the Maison de la Pensée Francaise (House of French Thought) and his links with the Communist Party. From 1946, he was a regular figure in St-Germain-des-Prés, mingling with philosophers, poets, writers, painters and sculptors, comedians and musicians of existentialist, surrealist or other persuasion, which constituted at that time the core of Parisian intelligentsia, and becoming friends with Pierre Dmitrienko, Serge Rezvani and François Arnal.

In 1951, he collaborated with Le Corbusier on architectural projects, and throughout the 1950s, travelled widely, visiting Brazil, Peru, Africa and eastern Europe, as well as the Scandinavian countries, including Lapland, in which he studied the local runes. In 1960, he settled in Milan for two years and, from 1963, spent two years in the USA.

In 1945, influenced by his meeting with Picasso, Quentin naturally succumbed to his influence in Tributes to Guernica and Picasso and his drawings and gouaches of the Horrors of War, which are executed in an abstract expressionist style. However, in 1946, the discovery of Paul Klee led him away from Picasso and towards abstraction, resulting in his first Ideogram-Scripts and Steno-Grafittis. Then in 1947, during a trip to the South of France and Italy, he discovered the rupestral inscriptions of the Vallée des Merveilles (Valley of Wonders), which affirmed his original interest in the poetic spontaneity of all imaginary ideograms and other hieroglyphics, of which traces can be found in his submissions to the Sparkling Hands ( Mains Éblouies) group. From 1952 he worked on much larger formats, during which time his graphic signs lost their geometric aspects and once again developed a gestural dynamic. In 1954, he executed polychromatic compositions in Niarney and Barnako, Africa, and also took part in the reconstruction of Warsaw.

During the 1940s, Quentin had the opportunity to produce some monumental architectural projects, including a collection of stained glass windows. In 1958-9 in Brussels and Berlin, he returned to monumental work, integrating elements of poetry into the area surrounding the mosaics and stained glass. From around 1961, he abandoned painting for a while to work on three-dimensional projects such as theatre sets, mainly for the Roland Petit ballet company, possibly influenced by the humour of pop art, such as inflatable sculptures, which were architectural features of the French pavilion at the Montreal World Fair in 1967. In 1977, together with Rezvani and a dozen other artists, he created the group exhibition Art +, which dealt with the integration of art and the environment, and from then on applied this idea in his own work, as in the Holy Ways of Islam- alignments of colossal Kufic characters, spread out along the motorways linking Jeddah and Rhyad to Mecca, which reproduced verses from the Koran. After 1980, he produced a series of paintings in which evocations of crowds are intertwined with scripts and graffiti, and from then onwards, his paintings became composed exclusively of letters and words, often seen as architectural designs in space and elevated graphically, pictorially or in numerical images in an axonometric perspective.

Although Quentin's work varied throughout the different periods of his life, it is based firmly on the object-letter and the object-word, treating poems as architecture-sculptures and contributing to the development of 'semiotic art'.

Quentin has taken part in many group exhibitions, including in Paris: 1946, Luxembourg Gallery and the Salon des Artistes sous Trente Ans; 1947, the second Salon des Realités Nouvelles, the Salon Comparaisons and Salon de Mai, including the exhibition On Four Walls ( Sur Quatre Murs); 1949, Mai Gallery; 1952, New School of Paris ( La Nouvelle École de Paris) and the first exhibition of Sparkling Hands ( Les Mains Éblouies), Babylon Gallery; 1953, First Appraisal of the Art of Today ( Premier Bilan de l'Art Actuel) and Lyricism and Abstraction, Craven Gallery; 1957, 50 Years of Abstract Painting ( 50 ans de peinture abstraite), Creuze-Balzac Gallery, and Tribute to Monet ( Hommage à Monet), André Schoeller and St-Germain-des-Prés Galleries. Other projects include: 1958, a wall painting, Great French Productions for the French Pavillion of the World Fair, Brussels; 1961, Iris Clert's Piccola Biennale, Venice; 1980, Art/Script in collaboration with Jean Clarence Lambert, Seine Gallery and other venues.

From 1945, Quentin also exhibited in solo shows in Paris, including: 1950, Mai Gallery; 1957, Stadler Gallery; 1959, Quatre Saisons Gallery; 1978, Larcade Gallery; 1984 and 1990, Quentin 1948-1963 and Memoir, Michel Broomhead Gallery; 1991, Writings and Masses, Works from 1947 to 1963 and Writings and Cut-Outs, Totems, Recent Works, Arnoux Gallery; and others.

Auction Records

Paris, 17 Dec 1985: Clouds, Light, Blood (1962, oil on panel, 29¼ × 48 ins/74 × 122 cm) FRF 16,500

Paris, 17 Dec 1985: Freedom (bronze) FRF 13,000

Paris, 3 Dec 1987: Hieroglyphics (oil on panel, 11¾ × 19¾ ins/30 × 50 cm) FRF 13,000; Hieroglyphics (1947, gouache and ink/paper, 12¾ × 10 ins/32.5 × 24.5 cm) FRF 7,000

Paris, 23 March 1988: A2A3 (1962, ink and colour/material, 82¾ × 39¼ ins/210 × 100 cm) FRF 18,000

Neuilly, 20 June 1988: Signs (watercolour, 9 × 11¾ ins/23 × 30 cm) FRF 3,200; Battle (1956, oil on canvas remounted/chipboard, 17¾ × 20 ins/45 × 50.5 cm) FRF 7,200

Paris, 7 Oct 1988: Battle (oil on canvas, 17¾ × 23¾ ins/45 × 60.5 cm) FRF 21,000

Douai, 23 Oct 1988: Battle (watercolour, 9¼ × 12½ ins/23.5 × 32 cm) FRF 4,000

Paris, 26 Oct 1988: Battle (oil on panel, 19¾ × 24 ins/50 × 61 cm) FRF 20,000

Neuilly-sur-Seine, 16 March 1989: Red Wood Relief (1987, acrylic and fabric/ wood, 19 × 9¾ ins/48 × 25 cm) FRF 5,200

Paris, 19 March 1989: Untitled (gouache, 12½ × 19¾ ins/32 × 50 cm) FRF 4,200

Paris, 6 April 1989: Graffiti (1961, mixed media, 63¾ × 35 ins/162 × 88 cm) FRF 45,000

Paris, 12 April 1989: Fog and Figure (1960, oil on canvas, 45 × 57 ins/114 × 145 cm) FRF 26,000

Paris, 24 May 1989: Time Passing (1984-1987, painted fabric and glue/canvas, 51¼ × 44½ ins/130 × 113 cm) FRF 35,000

Douai, 2 July 1989: Battle (oil on panel, 78¾ × 47¼ ins/200 × 120 cm) FRF 36,500

Paris, 29 Sept 1989: Crowds (1959, oil on canvas, ink and collage/newsprint, 19¼ × 25¼ ins/49 × 64 cm) FRF 7,000

Douai, 3 Dec 1989: Crowd (1960, watercolour and gouache, 6¼ × 10 ins/16 × 24.5 cm) FRF 5,800

Versailles, 10 Dec 1989: Rose (1986, Indian ink and watercolour, 12½ × 9 ins/32 × 22 cm) FRF 8,500

Paris, 22 Jan 1990: To Figures (gouache/paper, 12½ × 9½ ins/32 × 24 cm) FRF 4,600

Douai, 1 April 1990: Letter Composition (1946, oil on canvas, 14¾ × 18 ins/37.5 × 46 cm) FRF 49,000

Paris, 25 April 1990: Composition (1957, mixed media/canvas, 22 × 17¾ ins/56 × 45 cm) FRF 30,000

Paris, 3 May 1990: Zaire (oil on panel, 23½ × 19¾ ins/60 × 50 cm) FRF 30,000

Paris, 16 May 1990: White Series

Neuilly, 22 March 1992: Ocean (1988, mixed media/canvas, 30 × 41¾ ins/76.5 × 106 cm) FRF 7,000

Paris, 3 Feb 1993: Battle (1955, oil on panel, 19 × 23½ ins/48 × 60 cm) FRF 12,000

Paris, 11 June 1993: Nice (1962, mixed media and collage/panel, 24¾ × 40¼ ins/63 × 102 cm) FRF 6,500

Paris, 6 Feb 1994: Battle (1958, oil and sand/panel, 21 × 36½ ins/52.5 × 93 cm) FRF 9,000

Paris, 22 Dec 1995: Festival (1960, oil and collage/panel, 16 × 9¾ ins/39.7 × 24.9 cm) FRF 9,000

Versailles, 13 Dec 1998: Untitled (1962, ink/paper/canvas, 98 × 59 ins/250 × 150 cm) FRF 12,500

Versailles, 25 June 2000: Avanti Popolo (mixed media collage/cardboard, 23 × 17 ins/59 × 42 cm) FRF 12,000

Paris, 11 April 2001: Battle (oil/hardboard, 27 × 73 ins/68 × 185 cm) FRF 21,000

Paris, 3 Dec 2003: Untitled (Corten steel) EUR 1,800

Paris, 13 Feb 2004: Writing (black patinated bronze) EUR 1,600

Bibliography

  • Lambert, Jean-Clarence: ‘La Jeune École de Paris’ in coll. Musée de Poche, Georges Fall, Paris, 1958.
  • Restany, Pierre: ‘Écritures dans la peinture’ in 2 vols., exhibition catalogue, Villa Arson-Centre national des Arts plastiques, Nice, 1984.
  • Quentin, Bernard, et al.: Connaître l'art de la démesure de Quentin, Gal. Michel Broomhead, Paris, 1986 (extensive documentation).
  • Lambert, Jean-Clarence/Restany, Pierre/Leymarie, Jean: Quentin. Des graffitis aux monuments, Éd. Cercle d'Art, Paris, 1991.
  • Harambourg, Lydia: L'École de Paris 1945-1965. Dictionnaire des peintres, Ides et Calendes, Neuchâtel, 1993.