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Still Life with Book

Lasne Jean

(1911 - 1940) | 987.2.1

Date : 1939 | Medium : Oil on canvas

This still life by Jean Lasne dates from 1939, a year before his death. The Normandy painter died before his time at the age of only twenty-nine, while he was still exploring his style. His influences can clearly be seen in this painting. The sense of solidity and depth are reminiscent of Cézanne, ‘'that very great man’, whose work creates ‘construction in all its aspects’. The forms of the objects evoke those of Picasso's contemporary works; his Guernica had a powerful emotional impact on the young Jean Lasne, who sought to ‘establish a link between the viewer and the painter's internal self.’ Jean Lasne, like Robert de La Fresnaye, was part of the group ‘Les Forces nouvelles’ created in 1935, just after the exhibition and rediscovery in 1934 of the great masters of 17th century reality painting – Le Nain, La Tour and the French Caravaggisti in particular. This group wanted to give new form to Cubism, without abandoning it. For Jean Lasne, the essential lay elsewhere. In 1936 he wrote, ‘There is no longer any Fauvism, Academicism or Impressionism, only a profound disquiet: disquiet above all with form, because while feeling may enliven the painting, if this is to be human, feeling will only live through a perfect form. A work may only move us indirectly, but it must move us.’

In the Rouen painting, considerable balance is achieved in the composition, where the play on various lines is structured between the stable setting of the round table, the vertical lines in the background, and the moving, leaning and twisted ones between the objects themselves –subtly balanced, as are the colours. These respond to each other like a dialogue between characters: the highly sonorous red and green, and the far softer blues, whites and greys.