Artist biography

English painter and printmaker. She studied from 1909 to 1912 at Bristol School of Art and from 1912 to 1914 at the London School of Art. She first became known as a book illustrator and printmaker, producing mainly lithographs and wood-engravings. Her mature work as a painter followed her first visit to Paris (1920), when she began to paint in a simplified, Post-Impressionist style. Her subject-matter included scenes with people gathered together in restaurants or theatres, for example In a Theatre (1928; ex-artist's priv. col.). In 1926 she settled in Paris and adopted the name Paule Vézelay.

From 1929 to 1932 she lived with André Masson. Her work began in 1929 to be abstract, with lines and shapes floating in a cloudy, atmospheric space, as in Curves and Circles (1930; London, Tate), although she also painted a few Masson-like semi-Surrealist compositions. In 1934 she joined the Abstraction-Création group, and most of her later paintings such as Forms on Grey (1935; London, Tate) were more classical, with clear-cut forms, sometimes like vases, against a uniform background. Her most original contributions to the abstract movement, however, were probably the Lines in Space that she began in 1936: shallow wooden boxes with a spatial network of threads or curving wires, for example Lines in Space No. 16 (1951; Basle, Kstmus.). Vézelay returned to England in 1939, shortly after the outbreak of war, and spent her later years in London, working in growing isolation until her work was rediscovered at the end of her life.

Bibliography
Paule Vézelay (exh. cat., ed. R. Alley; London, Tate, 1983)
Paule Vézelay: Paintings and Constructions (exh. cat., ed. R. Alley; London, Annely Juda F.A., 1987)

RONALD ALLEY

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