U.Va. Fralin Museum of Art Offers Lecture on French Artist, Followed by Q&A with His Widow

October 03, 2012

Painter and art critic Deborah Rosenthal will give a special lecture in conjunction with The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia’s exhibition, "Jean Hélion: Reality and Abstraction," on view through Dec. 16. She will speak on “The Artist in Society: Jean Hélion, painter, writer, prisoner” on Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 153.

In the 1930s, Hélion helped found the international artists' group called “Abstraction-Création” in Paris, participated in many important exhibitions in Europe, and forged connections between modern art circles in France and the United States. Between 1936 and 1939, Hélion lived and worked mainly in New York City and Rockbridge Baths, VA. Just as his work was evolving toward a figurative style and everyday themes, Hélion became caught up in World War II, said exhibition curator Matthew Affron, an art history professor in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences.

His 1943 book, “They Shall Not Have Me,” recounts his two years in Nazi POW camps. The book, and his work of the 1930s and early ’40s, give us a picture of this passionate, articulate artist as a man – the artist in society, said Rosenthal.

Following the talk, Rosenthal and Affron, who is also the museum's curator of modern art, will lead a Q&A with Hélion’s widow, Jacqueline Hélion.

Rosenthal is a painter represented by the Bowery Gallery in New York. Her work has also been shown in several other venues including the Lori Bookstein Gallery, Francis Naumann Fine Art, and Schroeder Romero & Shredder. She received a National Endowment for the Arts Critic's Grant for her writing on art, which has been published in Art in America, The New Criterion, and Modern Painters, among other publications. She is a professor in the Westminster College of the Arts at Rider University in New Jersey. As consulting editor for Arcade Publishing, she is editing a new series of books, “Artists and Art.” A frequent curator of exhibitions, she recently organized “Jean Hélion: Five Decades” at Schroeder Romero & Shredder.

The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is made possible by the generous support of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For information, call 434-243-2050 or e-mail museumoutreach@virginia.edu. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., and is located at 155 Rugby Road, one block from the Rotunda.  Admission is free.