• 184_10_17

Lot 256


The Netherlands / 1922 - 2010

Composition (1951)


Oil on canvas

Sig. '51 - Label on the reverse Baron Fernand C. Graindorge (1903-1985)

63 x 67 cm

With a photograph representing the artist next to this work

Lot essay

  • Corneille – Cobra artist in Africa

    After Corneille had returned from the Hoggar, a static, almost Mondrian clarity appeared in his canvases. The sandy plain and stone mountains, the marshes grayed to cement, his dream, had cleared up. The Hoggar had entered.

    This is how Hugo Claus described the transformation in the art of his friend Corneille after his trip to Algeria in 1951, the same year in which he created the present painting. The artist was particularly fascinated by Africa and ventured into the Hoggar Mountains, an inhospitable area in the south of Algeria.

    The artist was particularly inspired by the relentless sun, the erratic rock formations with peaks reaching 3000 meters high, the roughness of the area located in the middle of the Sahara desert. The exuberant color rendering and meticulous lines reflect the deep impression it made on him.

    Corneille painted the present composition in 1951, the last official year of the Cobra movement. During this period he absorbed a multitude of impressions, including those of Joan Miro, Jean Dubuffet, Pablo Picasso, but also of children's drawings, folk art, cultures and alphabets from other worlds. In the Sahara he became acquainted with the nomadic art of the Tuareg, which is strictly geometrically structured, as well as the 'Tifinagh', a 9000-year-old script. These are motifs that he will use in this composition in a loose and original way.

    Brilliant white light and black shadow form a labyrinthine pattern in the ocher yellow landscape. The stacking of surfaces is highlighted by delicate lines representing human and animal-like creatures as pseudo-hieroglyphs. The result is a poetic painting in which Corneille gradually reveals his passion for the African continent.