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U.Va.’s Art Museum Hosts Lunchtime Talk by Matthew Affron on Dec. 11

Curator Matthew Affron will give a Lunchtime Talk on The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia’s exhibition, “Jean Hélion: Reality and Abstraction” on Dec. 11, from noon to 1 p.m. 

A French painter, Hélion was a leading figure in the world of abstract art during the 1930s. He created extraordinary geometrical compositions that balance pristine clarity with both a strong dynamism and a sense of unceasing transformation. He helped found a significant international artists’ group, “Abstraction-Création,” in Paris, participated in many important European exhibitions and forged connections with modern art circles in the United States. Hélion spent much of the 1930s shuttling between studios in Paris, New York City and Rockbridge Baths, Va.

Affron’s talk will cover Hélion’s turn from pure abstraction at the end of the 1930s toward everyday themes rendered in a figurative style. This seemingly simple shift is more complicated than it might first appear. His abstract compositions had contained configurations of form that were ultimately converted into recognizable figures and objects. Simultaneously, the newer figurative works possessed strongly formal qualities. Hélion, therefore, complicates any simple opposition between notions of abstract art’s detachment and realism’s involvement in social immediacy, Affron said.

Affron is an associate professor in the College of Arts & SciencesMcIntire Department of Art and curator of modern art at the museum. He has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions at the museum, including “Matisse, Picasso, and Modern Art in Paris,” “Society Portraits: Andy Warhol’s Photographic Legacy” and “Émilie Charmy and the Feminine in Modern French Art.” Among his current projects is “Joseph Cornell and Surrealism,” a 2013-14 exhibition in collaboration with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon.

Affron's publications deal with diverse aspects of modern art in the first half of the 20th century. He earned a Ph.D. in art history at Yale University in 1995 and a B.A. in art history in 1985 at Brown University.

The museum's Lunchtime Talks are usually held on the second Tuesday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. These lectures offer the opportunity to join curators and faculty as they explore topics related to museum collections and exhibitions.

Lunchtime Talks are free and open to the public. For information, call 434-243-2050 or e-mail museumoutreach@virginia.edu. The museum is located at 155 Rugby Road, one block from the Rotunda.

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