Forces Nouvelles

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An association of painters formed in Paris in 1934 with the aim of bringing new life to French art by reviving strict principles of draughtsmanship and craftsmanship and combining them with an expressive vigour relevant to the values of contemporary life, which in their work almost invariably meant rural scenes. The leading figures included Jacques Despierre (1912–95), Robert Humblot (1907–62), and Georges Rohner, who were united in condemning current avant-garde movements as too precious. A manifesto of 1938 declared Impressionism to be public enemy no. 1 of art and excepted only Picasso, with reservations, from its disapproval. In practice the stylistic range of the group ranged from the painterly manner of Pierre Tal-Coat, who was to be an exponent of Lyrical Abstraction after the war, to the expressive figuration of Humblot. The most prevailing influence was probably the late work of Roger de La Fresnaye. Politically the sympathy of the painters was on the left. One member, André Fougeron, was to become a leading figure in Communist artistic circles, while some of Humblot's paintings directly referred to the sufferings of the Spanish peasant during the civil war. Furthermore they held their exhibitions at the Galerie Billiet-Worms, which openly supported the left-wing Popular Front. The Forces Nouvelles group held exhibitions from 1935 to 1943, but its impetus had been lost by the beginning of the Second World War.

Further Reading

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Forces Nouvelles 1935–1939 (1980)

Subjects: Art.

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