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Paule Vezelay
(1892 - 1984)

Archway, 1929

SKU: 11283
oil on canvas

Size:
Height – 35.5cm
Width – 25.5cm

DESCRIPTION

For many artists, Paris symbolised freedom of artistic expression, and a significant number flocked to La Ville Lumière
to study and hone their craft and join the flourishing arts community. Paule Vézelay, who moved to Paris in 1926,
recalled meeting “all the giants…Braque and Picasso were doing their most vigorous work in the next street
to my little studio”.

Archway was painted in 1929, the same year she became involved with the Surrealist artist André Masson (they were
engaged at one time, but she broke off the relationship). Working side by side, Vezelay and Masson painted dreamlike, Surrealist works, which led her to be considered by critics such as Christian Zervos to be amongst the Parisian avant-
garde and by J. P. Hodin, a master of classical abstraction.

Her work of the late 1920s is semi-automatic and abstract, featuring cursive linear motifs, but it subsequently became
more geometrical, and in 1934 she joined the international group Abstraction-Création (founded in Paris in 1931 ro
promote art non- figuratif). Vézelay counts as one of the earliest and most imaginative British abstract painters; her
interest in abstraction pre-dates that of Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson and precedes the famous Unit One
exhibition and book of 1934. Her style – of which this is a key example – was unprecedented in the context of British art
of the period.

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THE ARTIST

Vezelay, Paule

1892 – 1984

Paule VŽ zelay (nŽ e Marjorie Watson-Williams) studied at Bristol
School of Art, London School of Art and Chelsea Polytechnic. 

She first exhibited in London in 1921 and joined the LG the
next year. In 1926, she moved to Paris and adopted the name Paule
VŽ zelay, which ‘ despite the moniker’s distinctly French nature ‘
she claimed was “for purely aesthetic reasons”. 

Closely associated with AndrŽ Masson (1896’1987) (with
whom she lived for four years), Jean Arp (1886’1966) and Sophie
Taeuber-Arp (1889’1943) during this period, by the early 1930s
VŽ zelay’s work had become increasingly abstract and she joined
Abstraction-CrŽ ation in 1934. One of only a few British members,
she was committed to international, non- representational art. 

She returned to London at the outbreak of WWII and
experimented with new artistic forms, including reliefs, painting
and textiles, some of which were shown at the Grosvenor Gallery
in 1968. A retrospective exhibition of her work was held at the
Tate Gallery in 1983.

MORE PICTURES BY ARTIST

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Paule Vezelay (1892 - 1984)
Archway, 1929
Forthcoming
Paule Vezelay (1892 - 1984)
Three Forms on Grey
Paule Vezelay (1892 - 1984)
A Moving Form and a Yellow Circle
Private
Paule Vezelay (1892 - 1984)
L’Animal, 1929
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Paule Vezelay (1892 - 1984)
Tubes et Rubans