Curator Matthew Affron will give a Saturday Special Tour of The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia’s exhibition, "Jean Hélion: Reality and Abstraction" on Oct. 27, from 2 to 3 p.m.
In 1929, a young artist named Jean Hélion had a rapid conversion to non-figurative painting. He quickly rose to prominence in the international community of abstract artists in Paris and became an important contact for American artists, dealers and collectors interested in modern art. Between 1936 and 1939, Hélion lived in New York and Virginia; he painted many of his beautifully austere compositions in a studio located in remote Rockbridge Baths. In 1939, he took another apparently sudden change of direction and began painting worldly subjects—human figures, still lifes, small corners of city life—in a naturalistic style.
Consisting of eight paintings and 24 works on paper, “Jean Hélion: Reality and Abstraction” tells the story of the evolution of the artist’s work from 1929 to 1939 and traces his approach to and then away from abstraction.
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.
Affron is an associate professor in the College of Arts & Sciences’ McIntire 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 Fralin Museum of Art offers its Saturday Special Tours on the third or fourth Saturday of every month from 2 to 3 p.m. These tours offer the opportunity to join faculty, curators, and scholars as they explore a variety of focused topics related to museum collections and exhibitions.
Saturday Special Tours are free and open to the public. For information, call 434-243-2050 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The museum is located at 155 Rugby Road, one block from the Rotunda.