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In the 1930s Hélion was a prominent abstract artist in the group Abstraction-Création. But shortly before the Second World War he became disillusioned with non-figurative art. By the 1950s he was painting from life. 'Nude with Loaves' demonstrates his enduring interest in the female physique and his fascination for common but mysterious objects. In this picture apparently realistic objects, such as the loaves of bread, begin to take on an emblematic quality. In this way the artist powerfully evokes the grim reality of life in post-war Paris. Hélion has been described as a painter of the 'human condition'. His intense concentration on a solitary figure finds parallels in the work of Giacometti and Bacon.

September 2004