French-born artist Jean Hélion painted Standing Figure at a time when he was a central proponent of nonrepresentational art in the United States. In 1936, Hélion was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group, which counted among its members Willem de Kooning. In this painting the body is interpreted in curved forms and shaded in tones of gray that resemble the metallic parts of a machine. Hélion’s depiction of the human figure is inspired by the quick-paced life of the city streets and the presence of new technology in urban settings.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): H.36; signed, dated, and inscribed (verso): Haut/ Hélion/ 36
the artist, Paris (from 1936; sold to Cantor); Joseph Cantor, Carmel, Ind. (by 1964–d. 1981); Joseph Cantor Foundation, Indianapolis (1981–82; their gift to MMA)
New York. Gallery of Modern Art. "Paintings by Jean Hélion, 1928–1964," November 3–December 27, 1964, no. 8 (as "Figure debout," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Cantor, Carmel, Indiana).
Munich. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus. "Jean Hélion. Abstraktion und Mythen des Alltags: Bilder, Zeichnungen, Gouachen 1925–1983," August 29–October 21, 1984, no. 47 (as "Stehende Figur").
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Hélion: Peintures et dessins, 1925–1983," November 15, 1984–January 6, 1985, no. 47 (as "Figure debout").
Düsseldorf. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. "'... und nicht die leiseste Spur einer Vorschrift'—Positionen unabhängiger Kunst in Europa um 1937," December 4, 1987–January 31, 1988, no. 47 (as "Figure debout [Aufrechte Figur]").
Bronx Museum of the Arts. "Return to the Figure: Three Studies—Philip Guston, Jean Helion, Irene Rice Pereira," April 7–August 23, 1988, no catalogue.
Valencia. IVAM Centre Julio González. "Jean Hélion," March 27–May 31, 1990, no. 11 (as "Figure debout [Figura de pie] [Upright figure]").
New York. National Academy Museum. "Jean Hélion," July 14–October 9, 2005, unnumbered cat.
Thomas Brandt in"...und nicht die leiseste Spur einer Vorschrift"—Positionen unabhängiger Kunst in Europa um 1937 / 1937. Europa vor dem 2. Weltkrieg. Exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Düsseldorf, 1987, pp. 31, 133, no. 47, ill. pp. 29, 135.
Vivien Raynor. "Three Artists Who Abandoned Abstraction for the Figure." New York Times (July 17, 1988), p. WC28, ill.
Anne Moeglin-Delcroix inJean Hélion. Exh. cat., IVAM Centre Julio González. Valencià, 1990, pp. 33, 125, 156, 181, no. 11, ill. p. 71 (color).
Henry-Claude Cousseau. Hélion. Paris, 1992, ill. pp. 77 (color), 312.
Sylvie Lecoq-Ramond inHélion, la figure tombée. Exh. cat., Musée d'Unterlinden. Colmar, France, 1995, ill. p. 14.
Debra Bricker Balken inJean Hélion. Exh. cat., Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 2004, pp. 49, 250, ill. p. 95 (color).
Philippe Dagen. Hélion. Paris, 2004, pp. 112, 117, colorpl. 67.
Roberta Smith. "Painter's Progress: Abstraction to Illustration and Nudes." New York Times (August 5, 2005), p. E29.