Catalogue entry

P77187 Untitled 1949

Lithograph 420 × 360 (16 1/2 × 14 1/8) on machine-made wove paper 561 × 439 (22 1/16 × 17 1/4); printed by Jean Pons, Paris; not editioned
Inscribed ‘Stephen Gilbert 1949’ below image b.r. and ‘Epreuve d'artiste’ below image b.l.
Purchased from Noël le Gall, Neuilly-sur-Seine (Grant-in-Aid) 1987

In conversation with the compiler in Paris on 8 December 1988, the artist stated that the Scottish painter William Gear had encouraged him to experiment with lithography. William Gear (see entries on Gear T04995 and P77163) had been living in Paris since 1947 and was in contact with several other British artists there, as well as a number of School of Paris artists including Atlan, Poliakoff, De Stael and Soulages. Like Gilbert, who came to Paris in 1945, Gear was associated with the Cobra group. Gear introduced Gilbert to the lithographic printer and painter Jean Pons, whose print studio was at 128 rue de Vaugirard in Montparnasse in a cellar below a millinery shop owned by Pon's wife. Gilbert recalled, ‘I think he [Gear] said, “well I'm making a lithograph there with Pons and it won't cost very much and would you like to come?” ... no-one made much money then and the lithograph gave me a stock... At that time I only had my Cobra paintings which I couldn't sell and I didn't have a dealer’.

P77187 is black-and-white and the image, although abstract, is insect-like. It is clearly related to an untitled painting of 1948 (repr. Stephen Gilbert: Peintures de l'epoch COBRA et sculptures/structures en métal 1958–1984, exh. cat., Galerie 1900–2000, Paris 1984, p.17, no.8 in col.). The painting also depicts an insect-like form with a dark blue body and brilliant red wings. The triangular head, triangular eyes and mouth are typical of the fantastic imagery that Gilbert explored until 1950. It was images like these that attracted the attention of the Cobra group. For a discussion of Gilbert's ‘insect’ imagery and his involvement with Cobra, see the entry on T04933.

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996