Page 1

Lacasse Covers 2013_Whitford Cover 12/04/2013 16:01 Page 1

LACAS SE A R T

6 DUKE STREET ST. JAMES’S LO N D O N S W 1 Y 6 B N TEL.+44(0)20 7930 9332 info@whitfordfineart.com w w w. w h i t f o r d f i n e a r t . c o m

F I N E

F I N E A R T

W H I T F O R D

WHITFORD


Lacasse Covers 2013_Whitford Cover 12/04/2013 16:01 Page 1

LACAS SE A R T

6 DUKE STREET ST. JAMES’S LO N D O N S W 1 Y 6 B N TEL.+44(0)20 7930 9332 info@whitfordfineart.com w w w. w h i t f o r d f i n e a r t . c o m

F I N E

F I N E A R T

W H I T F O R D

WHITFORD


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:08 Page 1

JOSEPH LACASSE 1894–1975

15 May – 28 June 2013

All Works are for Sale

WHITFORD F I N E A R T

6 DUKE STREET ST. JAMES’S LONDON SW1Y 6BN TEL. +44 (0)20 7930 9332 EMAIL info@whitfordfineart.com


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:08 Page 2

Above: Joseph Lacasse standing in front of Vérité (cat. no. 27) during his one-man show at the Drian Galleries, London, Nov. 1960 – Jan 1961. Front cover: Elévation, 1946 (cat. no. 17)


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:08 Page 3

JOSEPH LACASSE: Abstraction Explored

The beginnings of Abstract Art and the debate thereof have long been replaced by the question of the real value of contemporary art in the light of the power of the media. Accordingly, it remains astonishing that, beyond the limits of selected museums and groups of connoisseurs, the painter Joseph Lacasse continues to be denied the right to be recognized as a pioneer of Abstraction.

Born in 1894 into the desolation of a working-class family in Tournai, Belgium, Lacasse’s artistic vocation was first outlined at the local stone quarries where he worked alongside his father as a young teenager. During the period 1909-1914, Lacasse took small but roughly cut stones home to study. With visionary force, the young Lacasse observed their light and colour, to then draw them with crayons on black tracing paper as an informal reality of structural forms and lyrical lack of form with an almost metaphysical dimension.

These so-called ‘Cailloux’, came forth from Lacasse’s deep physical engagement with the subject and did not stem from sound intellectual reasoning, as was the basis of Kandinsky’s first abstract work of 1910. Whereas Kandinsky then penned the philosophical foundations of Abstraction down in ‘Ueber das Geistige in der Kunst’, published in 1912, the teenager Lacasse purely followed his intuition and instinct, and came to Abstraction unwittingly. After all, Lacasse’s education during 1909-1914 was focused on becoming a professional painter-decorator. He was enrolled as a free pupil at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Tournai, where he was taught basic drawing with an emphasis on decoration. Lacasse’s sketchbook of ornamental compositions from year three, 1909, under Professor Allard, shows geometrical abstract patterns reminiscent of textile designs. During Sunday afternoons of the year 1908 Lacasse also practiced the techniques of ‘trompe l’oeil’ painting of wood and marble, skilfully taught by the local decorator-painter, Charles Hourdequin.

Devoid of any theoretical basis and executed from the tender age of fourteen onwards, these abstract works merit to be praised, but instead have suffered unfairly at the hands of history to a point where their credibility has even been questioned.

Looking at Lacasse’s development as a pioneer, it is possible to isolate two creative styles illustrating his originality. Both styles were developed in Paris, where Lacasse had settled since 1925.


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:08 Page 4

Firstly, with his ‘Cailloux’ as a starting point, Lacasse developed geometrical patterns mirroring the layering of the stones leading to his unique style of piled up planes, which first came about during 19331939. Throughout this period, Lacasse turned to Abstraction for consolation from the disillusionment over the painting and then forced removal of his frescoes at the Dominican Chapel at Juvisy during 19311932. The ‘Cailloux’ would during the 1940s also give shape to his so-called ‘Balancements’, and form the basis of his trademark style of the 1950s until his death. Thus Lacasse’s intuitive abstract creations without doubt foretold future developments.

The second pioneering style in Lacasse’s oeuvre can be traced to his very first paintings of flowers from the garden of his parental home (1906-1907), which he unwittingly rendered in a child-like, informal Tachist manner. During the 1930s, and long before the 1950s when Tachism became a movement, Lacasse revisited the Tachist technique in a series of small works on paper mounted on board. At art school in Tournai and in Brussels, Lacasse was often ridiculed by fellow pupils, for his ‘naïve’ way of seeing things. However Lacasse always maintained that artists need simplicity, freedom and intuition in order to really paint, which earned him the encouragement of his teachers.

Parallel to his abstract exploits, Lacasse had founded his famous gallery ‘l’Equipe’. Inspired by his socialist ideas that artists of all disciplines and walks of life should come together to fight for their right to be shown, ‘l’Equipe’ played an important role on the Parisian art scene. At the outset, the artists of ‘l’Equipe’ met at Lacasse’s studio, 11 Impasse Ronsin. In 1937 ‘l’Equipe’ opened its doors at 79-81 Boulevard Montparnasse with Lacasse and his wife welcoming colleagues and visitors. During gallery hours, Lacasse kept busy making abstract sketches in crayons and gouache. Beautifully gathered in his famous ‘Cahiers de l’Equipe’, these works give a unique insight in Lacasse’s abstract visions of the time.

Exhibitions at ‘l’Equipe’ showed the work of many, including Jacques Lipchitz, Moïse Kisling, Francis Picabia and Pablo Picasso. Robert Delaunay and Albert Gleizes became firm friends and Georges Vantongerloo a frequent visitor. Asger Jorn, who at that time still carried his real name of Goosens, would undergo the definite influence of Lacasse’s work. Lacasse himself had a one-man-show at ‘l’Equipe’ in 1937, during which he showed some of his abstract works. A contemporary source quotes that besides his religious figurative works, Lacasse also presented paintings of pure colour, which are too difficult to describe in words, and that the only description is the vision of them.

Lacasse’s coloristic developments of the time also testify his great admiration for Robert Delaunay whom, according to Michel Seuphor, he met in 1931 and whose soirées he attended during 1938 and


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:08 Page 5

1939. Other artists Lacasse met at such gatherings included Serge Poliakoff, who then started visiting ‘l’Equipe’. At the time of their meeting, Poliakoff was still committed to figuration, and would take some years to develop his iconic abstract oils. Without having been promoted at the time, Lacasse’s abstract works of the 1930s influenced many more.

At the time, Paris was a melting pot of new ideas and developments, played out in the studios and cafes of Montparnasse, where Lacasse lived and worked. Whereas Michel Seuphor and Torres Garcia founded the group ‘Cercle et Carré’, whose collaboration with the ‘Art Concret’ group of Theo van Doesburg, resulted in ‘Abstraction-Creation’, it was Lacasse’s personal friendships with Robert and Sonia Delaunay and his neighbour, Constantin Brancusi, which centred him on Abstraction. Unfortunately, his dutiful choice of joining General de Gaulle’s Resistance at the outbreak of the Second World War required Lacasse to move to England. His five-year absence from Paris cost him dearly for the art world had moved on with Poliakoff and de Stäel now making the headlines and overshadowing the genius and originality of Lacasse. Being even accused of plagiarism whilst so many, including Poliakoff, kept silent, left Lacasse dumfounded and disappointed. Later, when Poliakoff’s success was guaranteed, it became a widely accepted fact, acknowledged by Poliakoff himself, that he borrowed much if not all from Lacasse’s 1930s abstracts he saw at ‘l’Equipe’.

The importance of both pioneering styles has also been lessened by Lacasse’s sincere commitment to figurative religious painting during the later 1910’s and 1920’s, which has hindered him to be recognized as a pioneer of Abstraction and Tachism. Being a great champion of Lacasse’s Abstract work, Sonia Delaunay commented in a letter to Henry Poulaille dated 6 January 1953 that Lacasse’s religious paintings do not do him any favours in rightly claiming his name as a pioneer of Abstraction, and even hints at Poliakoff’s plagiarism of Lacasse.

However, it was Lacasse’s self-imposed duty, which made him a religious figurative painter, using his art as a medium to comment on the condition of the working classes. Having experienced poverty and hardship first-hand, Lacasse always championed the underdog. His proletarian religious scenes, showing Christ as a tired worker, all in impeccable fauvist handling of the colour, were his expression of a revelation, an awakening to a conscious awareness of an ultimate reality.

The mysticism of his religious scenes remained present in his abstract works, for Lacasse only ever painted one and the same subject: the effect of the inner light of the Universal Creative Energy on the viewer, in his figuration and abstraction alike. Lacasse’s communication with the higher self enabled him


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:08 Page 6

to transcend the limits of paint and colour in order to create of ultimate light, akin to Robert Delaunay’s Orphism, but without ever loosing his individuality or originality.

Many efforts to bring Lacasse worldwide fame were counteracted by the times. During the late 1950s Lyrical Abstraction became unfashionable and relented to Figuration in the form of ‘Nouveau Réalisme’. During the 1960’s Michel Seuphor’s landmark publication ‘Abstract Art in Flanders’ (1963) was a success but its international break-through halted by the spreading of ‘anti-peinture’ movements such as Pop Art. The 1970s killed off all remaining tradition, proclaiming the end of painting in favour of conceptual art.

Nevertheless, large retrospective exhibitions about Lacasse were held in 1968 at the Musée des BeauxArts in Mons as well as in 1994 at the Liège Musée de l’Art moderne et d’Art contemporain, and in the Couvent des Cordeliers in Paris.

During April-July 2013, four of the seven paintings of the impressive series ‘La Creation’ will be on view at the Tournai Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Looking back with Lacasse’s individuality and all counter-movements in mind, it should at present be possible to grant Lacasse the position he deserves. No artist is indeed free of influences, but it is only the way influences are handled which makes an artist individual and unique. As such, Lacasse was one of the first, if not the first in Belgium and abroad, to literally conceive a different point of view.

From deep inside, Lacasse communicated energy and harmony, through line and form freed from their descriptive functions. His intuitive formal vocabulary shows that colour and form can generate meaning without representing the natural world.

Lacasse was wilful but naturally introvert, which lead him to the practice of sublimation of the visible, a clear guide to the ecstasy Lacasse sensed during the creative process.

Willy Van den Bussche and An Jo Fermon London, May 2013


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:08 Page 7

Selected Bibliography

BILCKE, Maurits. Joseph Lacasse: Voorloper van de abstrakte schilderkunst, ‘De Periscoop’, May 1960. BILCKE, Maurits, Roger BORDIER, Jacques MEURIS and Henry POULAILLE. Joseph Lacasse

par lui-même. Antwerp, 1974. BONDROIT, Théodule. Un élève de Maurice Denis: M. Joseph Lacasse, ‘Revue catholique des idées et des faits’, November 1926. BORDIER, Roger and Maurits BILCKE. Lacasse, exhibition catalogue, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Mons, Mons and Musée des Beaux-Arts, Liège, 1968. CALLEWAERT, Marc, Maurits BILCKE, and Jo DELAHAUT. De Eerste abstrakten in Belgie, exhibition catalogue, Hessenhuis, Antwerp, 1959. CHAZADES, Joseph. Le Cas Joseph Lacasse ou Poliakoff avant Poliakoff, de Staël avant de

Staël, ‘l’Oeil’, no. 245, 1975. COGNAT, Raymond. Lacasse, ‘Le Figaro’, 9 July 1959. COGNAT, Raymond. Lacasse toujours à redécouvrir, ‘Le Figaro’, 27 February 1969. CROS, Philippe. Joseph Lacasse, 1894 – 1975, exhibition catalogue, Bemberg Foundation, Toulouse, 1996. DANDOY, Colette. Joseph Lacasse. Mémoire de l’Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-laNeuve, 1973 - 1974. DELIZEE, Georges. Joseph Lacasse: un peintre du pays blanc. Brussels, 1927. DYPREAU, Jean. Les Peintures Abstraites, Fondation Cultura, Brussels, 1966. EEMANS, Marc. L’Art Moderne en Belgique. Brussels, 1974. EMSENS, Dominique. Joseph Lacasse: Peintre, Université de Paris- Sorbonne, Paris IV, Paris, 1979-1980. FOLIET Joseph. Exposition Lacasse, ‘Sept: l’Hebdomadaire du Temps Présent’, 23 April 1937. GEIRLANDT, Karel et alii. Kunst in België na 45. Anwerp, 1983. JOOSTENS, Pierre. Joseph Lacasse: Artiste peintre et sculpteur. Tournai, 2013. POLIAKOFF, Alexis and Gérard DUROZOI. Serge Poliakoff. Catalogue Raisonné. Vol. I, 1922 – 1954, Paris 2005.


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 8

POULAILLE, Henry. J. Lacasse, ‘Maintenant’, no. 2, Paris, 1946. POULAILLE, Henry. Documents et témoignage. Rodez, 1974. RAGON, Michel. Vingt-cinq ans d’art vivant. Tournai, 1969. REY, Jean-Philippe. L’Affaire des fresques de Juvisy, Chapelle dominicaine et iconoclasme

Episcopal, ‘Memoire dominicaine’, Vol. 8, Spring 1996. RINGSTROM, Karl. Lacasse: Cubist Period 1910 – 1915. XX Century Masters, no. 2, London, 1962. RENWART, Marc et alii. Lyrisme, Asbtraction, collage, exhibition catalogue, Ministère de la communauté française de Belgique, Avennes, Ancienne Abbaye d’Heylissem, 1983. RENWART, Marc and Florence FRESON. Les premiers abstraits wallons: Baugniet, Closon,

Engel-Pak, Lacasse, Lempereur-Haut, exhibition catalogue, Centre wallon d'art contemporain, Flémalle, 1984-1985. RENWART, Marc et alii. Lacasse, exhibition catalogue, Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain de la Ville de Liège, Liege, and Couvent des Cordeliers, Paris, 1994 – 1995. SEUPHOR, Michel. Dictionnaire de la peinture abstraite. Paris, 1957. SEUPHOR, Michel. La Peinture abstraite, sa genèse, son expansion. Paris, 1962. SEUPHOR, Michel. La Peinture abstraite en Flandre. Brussels, 1963. SEUPHOR, Michel. L’Art Abstrait 1918 – 1938. Maeght, Paris, 1972. VAN DEN BUSSCHE, Willy. l’Art moderne en Belgique, museum collection catalogue, Provincial Museum of Modern Art, Ypres, (now Ostend), 1979. VERBURGGEN, Jo. Polémiques autour de Joseph Lacasse, ‘La Flandre Libérale’, 1 November 1959. VERBRUGGEN, Jo. Lacasse, ‘Pelion’, Ghent, May 1960.

Our profound thanks go to Mrs Francine Koob-Lacasse and Mrs Michèle Joostens-Koob for their full cooperation and generosity in allowing us to consult Joseph Lacasse’s ‘Cahiers de l’Equipe’ as well as numerous unpublished sources present in the Lacasse family archives.


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 9


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 10

1.

Equilibre 1933 Lithograph on Arches paper 56.5 x 38 cm Edition of 20 Signed, dated, titled and inscribed lower left Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 2549


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 11

2.

La Naissance 1933 Lithograph on Arches paper 56.5 x 38 cm Edition of 20 Signed, dated, titled and inscribed lower left Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 2551


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 12

3.

Le Vent c.1935 Oil on canvas 24 x 33 cm Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1458


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 13

4.

Espace 1935 Oil on canvas 33 x 24 cm Signed and dated upper left Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 2406 EXHIBITED: 1935, Galerie l’Equipe, Paris.


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 14

5.

Tachisme 1935 Oil on paper laid on panel 20.5 x 15 cm Signed and dated lower left Signed, dated and fingerprinted verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1804


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 15

6.

Tachisme 1935 Oil on paper laid on panel 20.5 x 15 cm Signed and dated verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1805


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 16

7.

Tachisme 1936 Oil on canvas 19 x 24 cm Signed and dated lower centre Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 2431

8.

Tachisme 1936 Oil on canvas 19 x 24 cm Signed and dated lower left Signed, dated and fingerprinted verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 2432


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 17

9.

Tachisme 1936 Oil on paper laid on panel 22 x 16 cm Signed and dated lower left Signed, dated verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1809


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 18

10. Firebird 1936 Oil on canvas 73 x 51 cm Signed and dated lower left Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 65


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 19

11. Espagne 1936 Oil on canvas 41 x 33 cm Signed lower left Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1008


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 20

12. Tachisme 1936 Oil on paper laid on panel 24 x 16 cm Signed and dated lower left Signed and dated verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1811


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 21

13. Recherche 1936 Oil on canvas 55 x 38 cm Signed lower left Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 976


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 22

14. Tachisme 1937 Oil on paper laid on panel 24 x 16 cm Dated lower right Signed and dated verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1813


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 23

15. Etude 1940 Oil on canvas 40.5 x 32.5 cm Signed and dated lower left Signed, dated and titled verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 6899


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 24

16. Etude 1940 Oil on canvas 41 x 33 cm Signed lower right Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 6900


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 16:03 Page 25

17. ElĂŠvation 1946 Oil on canvas 100.5 x 81.5 cm Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 327


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 26

18. Composition c.1945 Oil on canvas 46 x 61 cm Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1242


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 27

19. Contre dominante rouge - ElĂŠvation 1947 Oil on canvas 100 x 81 cm Signed lower right Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 484


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 28

20. Espace c.1949 Oil on canvas 41 x 27 cm Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1544


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 29

21. Composition géométrique c.1949 Oil on canvas 41 x 33 cm Signed and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 278


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 30

22. Lumière 1949 Oil on canvas 33 x 41 cm Signed and dated centre left Signed and dated verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 2404


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 31

23. Contre dominante rouge 1950 Oil on canvas 46 x 61 cm Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1894


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 32

24. Composition 1957 Oil on canvas 65 x 81 cm Signed and dated '1955-57' verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 850


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 33

25. Reflets 1958 Oil on canvas 55 x 46 cm Signed and dated lower left Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1244


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 34

26. Mouvement 1960 Oil on canvas 194 x 130 cm Signed and dated upper right Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 565


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 35


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 36

27. Vérité 1960 Oil on canvas 195 x 130 cm Signed and dated 'London, 1960' verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 570 EXHIBITED: Nov. 1960 - Jan. 1961, Lacasse, Drian Galleries, London.


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 37


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 38

28. Mouvement 1960 Oil on canvas 73 x 100 cm Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 319


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 39

29. Composition 1962 Oil on canvas 55 x 46 cm Signed lower left Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1084


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 40

30. Evasion 1963 Oil on canvas 73 x 100 cm Signed and dated centre right Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 16


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 41

31. Lumière 1972 Oil on canvas 81 x 100.5 cm Signed upper right Signed, dated and inscribed verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 12


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 42


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:09 Page 43


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 44

32. Composition 1932 Gouache 50 x 40 cm Signed and dated lower left Signed and dated verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 1758


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 45

33. Composition 1935 Gouache and charcoal 56 x 38 cm Signed and dated lower left Signed, dated and fingerprinted verso Lacasse Inventory Estate Dia no. 2775


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 46

34. Composition 1940 Gouache and crayon 65 x 50 cm Signed and dated upper right Lacasse Inventory Dia no. 2061


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 47

35. Composition 1947 Gouache 63 x 48 cm Signed and dated lower right Signed, dated and fingerprinted verso Lacasse Estate Inventory Dia no. 2104


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 48

36. Collage 1956 Collage 50 x 65 cm Signed, fingerprinted and dated lower centre Lacasse Inventory Dia no. 1551


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 49

37. Collage 1956 Collage 65 x 50 cm Signed and dated lower centre Signed, dated and fingerprinted verso Lacasse Inventory Dia no. 1552


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 50

38. Collage 1957 Collage 65 x 50 cm Signed and dated lower centre Lacasse Inventory Dia no. 1559


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 51

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.

Equilibre La Naissance Le Vent Espace Tachisme Tachisme Tachisme Tachisme Tachisme Firebird Espagne Tachisme Recherche Tachisme Etude Etude Elévation Composition Contre dominante rouge - Elévation Espace Composition géométrique Lumière Contre dominante rouge Composition Reflets Mouvement Vérité Mouvement Composition Evasion Lumière Composition Composition Composition Composition Collage Collage Collage

WORKS


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 52

Biography

1894 Born on 5 August in Tournai, Belgium. 1905 Started apprenticeship to become painter-decorator. 1906 Accepted as a free student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Tournai. First intuitive abstractions of stones, called ‘Cailloux’. 1907 Worked in the quarry of Coucou in Vaulx. 1908 Spent Sunday afternoons with Charles Hourdequin, learning to become a painter-decorator. 1909 Worked in the quarry of Lange in Vaulx. 1910 Worked alongside his father as a stonecutter in the quarry of Lange in Vaulx. 1909-1914 Continued his instruction in decorative art and drawing at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Tournai. 1914-1918 Dr. Mombel, teacher of anatomy at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Tournai saved Lacasse from the horrors of the First World War, by hiding him at the Tournai hospital. Lacasse continued his training as free pupil at the Ecole des Beaux Arts of Tournai until 1921. 1914-1933 Known as a ‘Le peintre du Pays blanc’ or successful painter of figurative scenes illustrating the conditions of the working classes, often depicted against a religious background. 1921 Left Belgium for Italy. Travelled to Rome, Naples and Sicily. 1921-1922 Enrolled at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. 1922 Met his future wife, Stéphanie Lupsin, daughter of the famed art dealer in Brussels. 1922-1924 Travelled to Italy and Brittany, Madrid in June 1923, Barcelona, and Florence in October 1923. Worked in the Carrara marble quarries. Was in Rome during January 1924 and then in Venice. 1925 Decided to settle in Paris, armed with a letter of recommendation by his friend the monk Bondroit for Maurice Denis. Moved into the Rue Mazarine. Converted to Catholicism. Worked for Maurice Denis. 1927 Marriage to Stéphanie Lupsin. Stayed for a few months in Tournai. 1928 Financial success at the exhibition at Galerie Dujardin, Roubaix. Death of his father. Moved with his wife to Paris, 11 Impasse Ronsin. Became firm friends with neighbouring Constantin Brancusi. 1928-1931 First meetings with Robert Delaunay, for whom he had great admiration. 1929 Received first studio visit from Henry Pouilaille. Published ‘Une promenade au Luxembourg’ (La nouvelle revue des Jeunes, December 1929). 1930-1933 Worked as a decorator for a childhood friend in Paris. 1931 January – June: Execution of Commission for frescoes for the Chapel Saint Dominique in Juvisy. Birth of his only daughter, Francine.


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 53

June: inauguration of the Juvisy frescoes, during which Monseigneur Gosselin decided that the works were too proletarian in spirit. 1932 Following a law-suit, the frescoes were destroyed. Ruined and feeling abandoned Lacasse works at the Paris Halles to support wife and child. 1933 Founded ‘l’Equipe’, inspired by his socialist ideas that artists of all disciplines and walks of life should come together to fight for their right to be shown. Until 1937, the artists of ‘l’Equipe’ met at Lacasse’s studio, 11 Impasse Ronsin. Turned to Abstraction for consolation from the disillusionment over the painting and then forced removal of his frescoes at the Dominican Chapel at Juvisy during 1931-1932. Beginning of his ‘Carnets de l’Equipe’ the compilation of abstract works on paper, and his ‘Journal’. 1933 – 1939 Series of Pre-War Parisian abstract works. 1937 ‘l’Equipe’ opened its doors on 79-81 Boulevard Montparnasse. 1938-1939 Attended gatherings at the studio of Robert Delaunay, during which he met the then figurative painter Serge Poliakoff. 1939 ‘l’Equipe’ published its first three magazines. Lacasse published his article about Cézanne (in

Jean-Jacques, 15 April 1939). 1940-1945 Spent five years in England, active in the resistance and totally cut off from his family. 1945 Returned to Paris to find that he had been forgotten. Destroyed more than a hundred paintings. 1946 Start of the series of Post-War Parisian abstract works. 1947 Took on the French nationality. 1949 Death of his mother. 1951 At the instigation of Henry Poulaille, Lacasse’s success was rebuilt. Until his death in 1975, Lacasse’s work is the subject of countless exhibitions abroad. During the 1950s and until his death, maintained a correspondence with Sonia Delaunay.

Notwithstanding his life-time success and some recognition as a precursor, Lacasse is still not acknowledged as a pioneer of Abstraction, beyond the limits of selected museums and groups of connoisseurs.


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 54

Solo Exhibitions 1914 Galerie de la Reine, Brussels. 1919 Galerie Lupsin, Brussels. 1919 Cercle Artistique de Tournai, Tournai. 1920 Galerie Lupsin, Brussels. 1922 Galerie Lupsin, Brussels. 1924 Cercle Artistique de Tournai, Tournai. 1926 Cercle Artistique de Tournai, Tournai (‘OEuvres du peintre du Pays Blanc’). 1928 Galerie Dujardin, Roubaix; Galerie du couvent des Franciscains, Mons-en-Baroeul. 1929 Salons de la marquise de Roys, Paris. 1930 Salons de la marquise de Roys, Paris. 1933 Galerie des Ingénieurs, Paris. 1937 Galerie de l’Equipe, Paris. 1938 Galerie de l’Equipe, Paris. 1946 Galerie Delpierre, Paris. 1951 Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Wildenstein, Paris; Galerie Dina Vierny, Paris (works 1935-1936). 1953 Kustverein, Salzburg; Kunstverein and Landesmuseum Darmstadt (travelling exhibition with works 1935-1952). 1955 Galerie Rose Fried, New York (works 1949-1954). 1956 Kunstverein, Freiburg-im-Breisgau; Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld; Kunstverein and Landesmuseum Darmstadt; Kunstverein and Museum Heidelberg (travelling retrospective exhibition). 1957 Städtische Akademie, Darmstadt; Kurpfälzisches Museum, Heidelberg. 1958 Galerie Grattacielo, Milan. 1959 Galerie Jacques Massol, Paris; Drian Galleries, London. 1960 Galerie de la Madeleine, Brussels; Drian Galleries, London (retrospective exhibition). 1961 Galerie Jacques Massol, Paris (recent works); Galerie Kare-Berntsen, Oslo. 1962 Drian Galleries, London (Cubist works 1910-1915); Galerie Heberg, Copenhagen. 1967 Swedish Architecture Museum, Lund; Paris, Galerie Jacques Massol. 1968 Musée des Beaux-Arts, Liège and Musée des Beaux-Arts, Mons (retrospective exhibition). 1969 Galerie Jacques Massol, Paris (works 1909-1914); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Charleroi; Kunstverein, Feiburg-im Breisgau; Landesmuseum Oldenburg; Kunstverein, Kassel (travelling exhibition). 1970 Baukunst Galerie, Cologne (retrospective exhibition); Halle aux Draps, Tournai (retrospective exhibition); Galerie Jacques Massol, Paris (works 1916-1927). 1971 Galerie Jacques Massol, Paris (works 1928-1939); Drian Galleries, London (retrospective exhibition). 1972 Galerie Jacques Massol, Paris (recent works). 1973 Playhouse Gallery, Harlow; Drian Galleries, London; Galerie Jeanne Buytaert, Antwerp (works 1909– 1913). 1974 Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, Tournai. (inauguration of eight large murals); World Trade Centre, Brussels (retrospective exhibition at the occasion of publication of the book Joseph Lacasse par lui-même.); Maison de la Culture, Tournai.


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 55

1975 Galerie Govaerts, Brussels (works 1909-1974). 1976 Fondation Septentrion (Anne et Albert Prouvost), Marcq-en-Baroeul. 1977 Musée d’Histoire et d’Art, Luxembourg (retrospective exhibition). 1978 Modern Religious Art Museum, Ostend. 1984 Drian Galleries, London. 1988 Galerie Callu Mérite, Paris (abstract works 1911-1956). 1989 Maison de la Culture, Tournai (Degand, Lacasse, Leroy); Cotthem Gallery, Aalst, Lineart Ghent; Galerie Callu Mérite, Paris (abstract works 1930-1940). 1990 Galerie Cotthem, Art London 90, London. 1991 Galerie Callu Mérite, Paris (20 collages 1930-1960). 1994 Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain de la ville de Liège, Liège (retrospective exhibition); Galerie Cotthem, Knokke-Zoute, (Cubist works 1910-1915); 1995 Couvent des Cordeliers, Paris (retrospective exhibition); Galerie Callu Mérite, Paris, (works 19301950). 1996 Fondation Bemberg, Toulouse (retrospective exhibition). 1999 Cotthem Gallery, Knokke-Zoute and Barcelona, (retrospective exhibition). 2001 Galerie des Arets, Brussels 2003 Galerie des Arets, Brussels 2005 Galerie des Arets, Brussels 2013 Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tournai, Tournai. (La Beauté sauve le monde, including a presentation of Lacasse’s ‘Quatre Jours de la Création’); Whitford Fine Art, London (retrospective exhibition).

Museums Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tournai Musée des Beaux-Arts, Liège Provincial Museum of Fine Arts, Ostend Musée d’Histoire et d’Art, Luxembourg Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris Musée National d’art moderne, Paris Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes National Museet, Stockholm Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel Eilat Museum, Israel Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel Museum Naradow, Warsaw Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh National Museum, Djakarta National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne


Lacasse Pages 2013_Whitford 12/04/2013 15:10 Page 56

This catalogue was published at the occasion of the celebration of Whitford Fine Art’s 40 years in business. It could not have come to fruition without the valued assistance of Mrs Francine Koob-Lacasse and Mrs Michèle Joostens-Koob, to whom we are most grateful.

All artworks ©Whitford Fine Art Text ©Willy Van den Bussche and An Jo Fermon Researched and edited by An Jo Fermon Photography by Mario Bettella Produced by Artmedia Press Ltd • London


Lacasse Covers 2013_Whitford Cover 12/04/2013 16:01 Page 1

LACAS SE A R T

6 DUKE STREET ST. JAMES’S LO N D O N S W 1 Y 6 B N TEL.+44(0)20 7930 9332 info@whitfordfineart.com w w w. w h i t f o r d f i n e a r t . c o m

F I N E

F I N E A R T

W H I T F O R D

WHITFORD


Lacasse Covers 2013_Whitford Cover 12/04/2013 16:01 Page 1

LACAS SE A R T

6 DUKE STREET ST. JAMES’S LO N D O N S W 1 Y 6 B N TEL.+44(0)20 7930 9332 info@whitfordfineart.com w w w. w h i t f o r d f i n e a r t . c o m

F I N E

F I N E A R T

W H I T F O R D

WHITFORD

Profile for Whitford Fine Art

Joseph Lacasse  

The work of Lacasse never ceased to excite connoisseurs of avant-garde Abstract art. He enjoyed a career that spanned some sixty-five years...

Joseph Lacasse  

The work of Lacasse never ceased to excite connoisseurs of avant-garde Abstract art. He enjoyed a career that spanned some sixty-five years...

Profile for whitford