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Vezelay, Paule

(1892 – 1984)

White and Cream Form with Three Circles

Pastel on paper, Grey ground
Signed and dated by artist
17 x 22 in. (43 x 57 cm)

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
The Artist’s Studio

Exhibited: Tate Gallery, Artist’s Retrospective, 1983

Paule Vézelay (née 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 London Group the next year. In 1926, she moved to Paris and adopted the name Paule Vézelay, which ‚Äî despite the moniker’s distinctly French nature ‚Äî she claimed was ‚Äúfor purely aesthetic reasons‚Äù. 

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 infamous Unit One exhibition of 1934. 

Speaking of her style in 1933, Vézelay wrote: Of my own work I must say that I hope to give intense pleasure to the eye of the beholder, enticing his regard to remain on colours and forms more pleasing than can easily be found in actuality, or seen by his own unaided imagination. I hope this pleasure will prove a kind of music for the eyes, and may hold his regard long enough to convey what I am telling with this mysterious language of paint; since it is something that can only be painted.’

(Paule Vézelay, Paris 1933, unpublished text, Tate Archive TGA 9027/1/2/1.) 

A retrospective of her work was held at the Tate Gallery in 1983 (which included this pastel), and she was recently subject to an In Focus’ exhibition at the Tate Britain.

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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.

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