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Goerg, Edouard

Edouard GOERG Two Young Spanish Girls, Oil on Paper, 1937-1938
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Édouard Goerg is one of the major artists of his generation.

He was born in a Champagne family in Australia during a professional stay of his father. He arrived in Paris at the age of seven. At the age of twenty, between 1913 and 1914, he studied painting at the Académie Ranson with Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier. After the war, he began teaching engraving at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris in 1949 and in 1965 was elected to the Academy of Fine Arts.

In the paintings of his early period he attacked the morality of post-war bourgeois society, and in that sense was similar to expressionist painters like Georg Grosz. The major works of this period are: Pirate (1922); Gourmand (1923); Bar (1923); Marriage (1924); Window (1924); Don Quixote (1925); and Good fortune (1925). He traveled extensively, and in 1935 visited the museums of Holland, where he was deeply influenced by the works of Hieronymus Bosch and Bruegel. He then produced a series of paintings on the theme of the tragedy of the human condition, under the generic title: "This is how the world turns under the eye of the police".

After the Second World War, he saved his vitriolic commentary for his etchings, and in his paintings ceased to criticize real life and instead celebrated the evil charms of the flower-girls. He has illustrated many books, including: Tales of Hoffmann, Picture of the Beyond Frederick Boutet, Knock of Jules Romains, The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire, The Book of Job and Apocalypse of Saint John by Sir Isaac Newton, who have all demonstrated his engraving skills. Asked about his art, he confessed that he had first wanted to try to unblock the "comedy of everyday forms". Essentially a painter of figures, he usually painted groups of feminine nudes; however, these nudes are often accompanied by conservatively dressed male spectators, who are the most enduring symbol of his first comic intentions. Nevertheless, the comedy is loaded with bitterness and sarcasm.

After several refusals, he was accepted at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in 1922. His work then appeared at the Salon d'Automne, at the Salon des Tuileries, at the Salon des Peintres Témoins deLeur Temps and at the Salon of the Society of Painters-Engravers, where he became honorary president from 1945 to 1958. He made his first personal exhibition in Paris in 1925. After that, he exhibited regularly in France and abroad. There have been several retrospectives of his work, notably in 1988 at the Grand Palais in Paris and the Salon du Verney in Vichy. In 1949, he received the very prestigious Hallmark prize for Nativity. In 1950 he received the Lugano Prize for Engraving.

chronology taken from the site
1893 - June 9, the birth of Edouard Joseph Goerg in Sidney (Australia), son of Gustave Goerg, director of family counters of Irroy champagne in Australia and Blanche Adet (half-Irish, half-Bordeaux).
1894 - The family settles in London
1900 - Arrival in Paris, 111, rue de Longchamp (XVI °)
1903 - Studies in Gerson then Janson-de-Sailly
c.1910 - Decides to become a painter, against the advice of his father who wants to see him join his business 1912 - Joined the Academy Ranson, where E. G. follows the teaching of Maurice Denis and Paul Serusier. He meets Ker Xavier Roussel and Paul Vallotton. Settles in a workshop 9, rue Campagne Première (XIV °) 1913 - Study trip to Italy (Florence, Assisi and Siena)
1914 - Trip to India. Return precipitated in France to the declaration of war. Mobilized, he is sent to the Somme, Champagne and Ardennes.
1915-1917- E. G. volunteers in the East Army (18 months)
1919 - Demobilized, he returns to the Ranson Academy, where he meets Andrée Berolzheimer.
1920 - Exhibits for the first time at the Salon des Independants. June 9, marries Andrée Berolzheimer.
1921 - May-June, travels to Italy. June, the couple buys a house in Cély-en-Bière in Seine-et-Marne.
1922 - First private exhibition at the Panardie Gallery, Paris. Received at the Salon d'Automne.
1923 - Meeting Jean-Emile Laboureur at the Druet Gallery, who introduces him to Marcel Gromaire and encourages him to make etchings.
1924 - July, birth of his daughter Claude-Lise.
1925 - Berthe Weill Gallery Exhibition, Paris
1926 - Settles in Cité Seurat (101, rue de la Tomb Issoire, XIV) in a house-workshops (built by André Lurçat) in co-ownership with Marcel Gromaire. Appointed member at the Salon d'Automne
1928 - Meeting Paul Guillaume, with whom he exhibited in Boston and the Art Institute of Chicago. Death of his father, E.G. takes care of his mother.
1929 - Special exhibition at Georges Bernheim
1934 - E. G. changes his style and subject, he starts a series of so-called fantastic works. Get in touch with Emmanuel Mounier and the Esprit group.
1935 - May-June, exhibition of his recent works at Jeanne Castel. Meeting Aragon and participate in the activities of A.E.A.R. First Salon du Temps present, E. Goerg is part of the organizing committee, chaired by André Lhote. Travels to Belgium and Holland.
1936 - May, participates in the first debate on Realism and Painting, organized by the House of Culture. 1937 - February, Edouard Goerg goes, with 6 other members of A.E.A.R. (Cabrol, Jannot, Labasque, Lauze, Lefranc and Masereel) to Barcelona. Participates with 9 paintings at the exhibition "The Masters of Independent Art 1897-1937" at the Petit-Palais
1938 - Settles in a mansion 11, rue Ducouédic (XIV °)

Two Young Spanish Girls (1937-1938)
oil on paper
for sale in our catalog

1939 - With the war, his painting is oriented towards feminine and floral themes: "flower-women" that he will paint until the end of his life.
1940 - Signs a contract with Galerie Drouant
1941 - Remains in Paris during the whole occupation
1944 - February, death of his wife Andrée, he is totally shot and only a shock treatment will restore him. Approach the lithography. June, collaborates on the album Vaincre, published by the National Front of Painters for the benefit of the French Francs Tireurs et Partisans Français.
1945 - President of the Society of French Painters-Engravers (until 1958) Illustrates The Apocalypse of Saint John (J. Haumont editor)
1946 - Appointed professor of engraving at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Trip to Grisons with the Marquet, offered by the Swiss government to French artists. December, trip to Algiers.
1947 - Second marriage.
1949 - Hallmark Award, Knight of the Legion of Honor. Exhibition in London.
1950 - First engraving prize in Lugano.
1954 - Participates in the Venice Biennale. Exhibitions in Cairo, Alexandria and Beirut.
1955 - Exhibitions in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires
1956 - Death of his mother. Exhibition in Nantes (Mignon-Massart), Reims (Andre Droulez), Nancy (Librairie des Arts, engravings), Strasbourg (Aktarius) and in Lausanne (Maurice Bridel and Nane Cailler).
1957 - Acquires a property in Callian (Var).
1960 - Permanently leaves Paris and the Paris region to settle in Callian.
1965 - Appointed member of the Institute at the Academy of Fine Arts.
1969 - April 13, death in Callian.



E. Goerg, by Gaston Diehl, Editions de Clermont, Paris, 1947

For nearly a century, the history of art has recorded a series of successive revolutions, of which we have been able to boast about the magnitude and importance. Almost all, from Impressionism to Nabism, from Fauvism to Cubism, tended to free the means of expression solely on the level of visual aesthetics, in the sense of a renewal of plastic forms; this extension of the power of visuality corresponds very exactly to the very evolution of society towards a fatal development of materialism.
These brave researches and the magnificent results obtained by this transformation of the creative effort must not, however, neglect or forget the necessary preponderance of spiritual values. By its very essence, art is language, and as such, in charge of conjugating both man and time in equivalent signs. The image, regardless of its own beauty, is only relevant insofar as it integrates with the moment and brings back to life essential human problems, that is to say that it bears in itself a complete and conclusive testimony of the time. Unfortunately, these inner qualities receive less attention and often go unnoticed. And today, more than ever before, both the public and the artists tend to look more inwardly at plastic writing without paying too much attention to its deeper meaning. Perhaps because, overwhelmed by the unleashing of events and continually outpaced by its new metamorphoses, our world prefers to ignore the true face of its painful gestation and not to face face to face with this tragic figure of itself that he presents in secret contemporary art. Perhaps also because unfortunately accustomed to this daily tragedy that has been harassing and pressing him for so many years, he ends up accepting it as best he can and no longer discerns the expressive value of the signs.

Yet among the artists there are some who claim from life all its fullness and refuse this tacit acceptance, this passivity a little shameful, this resignation of moral and spiritual forces. They are not afraid to confess openly and highly the drama that is in them and around them, the threats that hover. They denounce weaknesses and laches, they deliver the spirits and hopes that are common to everyone. They are, so to speak, the interpreter of destiny and assign before him men and events. But this is a dangerous role, for society has never liked to discover its remorse or its intentions before it, in the light of its turpitude and decay. All the visionaries, be they artists or prophets, have always been sacrificed to the interests of the moment, but with some precaution because they generally arouse the passionate curiosity of the crowd. The method traditionally employed is silence or denigration. The society violated in its dignity avenges itself of those who publicly denounce it and reveal its errors, by excommunicating them, treating them as jugglers or polemicists, denying their importance or their particular qualities. That they assert themselves with time. Sooner or later the said society is obliged to recognize itself in them, because they have gone to the most authentic truth, that of revelation; but it is always with some reluctance. History abounds in striking examples. Even did the Greco or Goya did not take long to be justified in their century? And Daumier, is he still not waiting for his final reclassification?

Today Rouault and Goerg, who belong to this same spiritual family, begin only with the recoil of the years to be truly rehabilitated and appreciated as they deserve, one by the Church, the other by history. And there is something surprising in a world that preaches so much the spirit of freedom and glorifies the revolutionary will. Indeed, it is they, even more than the best creative geniuses, who will present themselves in the future as the true revolutionaries. The revolt that manifests in them is total, demanding, despotic. It has in itself a value of eternity: it is based on the man and not on the idea, it goes to the bottom of things and disdains the accidental in spite of the first appearances, and especially it preserves to life its force gushing, its density and its richness. As and when their work will be defined with increasing authority compared to our time, as its most lucid portrait and the most complete.

The place occupied by Goerg in contemporary art has certainly been recognized for a long time already, because of the power of expression and the pictorial qualities of his work. But it is only now, through the various aspects that the latter has taken, that one can deduce without confusion its actual importance and verify to what extent this language corresponds to the fundamental data of our time.

From now on the horizon that such a work discovers gives the measure of its extent of elocution and its imperious legitimacy. And its undeniable inner unity as its overwhelming emotive intensity alternately dramatic, prophetic or joyfully exhilarating, attest that it is not a succession of happy encounters with chance, a fortitious relief or a lyrical effusion more or less free, but that it remains unceasingly a stern and meditated commitment to the whole being. It determines the profound meaning of this last quarter of a century; it gives the most valid and most definite definition. It presents itself as the very consciousness of our time which it assigns to history by marrying by its fluctuations all its hesitations and torments. It accuses it, and at the same time testifies to it by faithfully reflecting his remorse, his aspirations, his fears or his secret convictions. It sums up admirably each major event keeping only the essential, exceeding it in time and in its immediate scope. Thanks to it, one can find the very atmosphere of the first and second world wars, that of the two post-war periods, as well as that of various world crises or incidents. In advance it situates them, limits and prepares them for their outcome. It synthesizes the human adventure, reconstructs its inevitability and establishes the sovereign affirmation of the spirit in its triumphant conquests as in its renunciations or its most abject deeds.

If it imposes its reality with so much relief and naturalness, it is because it proceeds more from intuition than from intelligence. It marks the living relationship of a man with his time. And the satirical virulence or the apparent cruelty with which it is sometimes responsible, does not translate the position of an egotistical egoism, but on the contrary the presence of a vigilant altruism, concerned with the social fact. However, by natural generosity and independence of character, Goerg never obeys any partisan or preconceived reasoning. He instinctively attacks all that is the true negation of this life of which he eagerly seeks the most intense and profound forms of expression. The violence of his reactions only responds to his desire to defend her even in its most everyday aspects. And the trial he is bringing is aimed more at man than at civilization or at the events he uses only to raise his inner drama on the level of the universal. He claims for all the right to life and is indignant to see it scorned and mocked.

Thus, by the happiest conjunction, this work evokes on a spiritual level the salient facts of the time and surpasses the latter, stands out from the moment, also interpreting the eternal tragedy of man, his loneliness, his metaphysical anxiety, the desires, the impotence or the despair that he carries in him. At once present and virtual, it is almost nothing more than a mere refuge, the very one that the individual who is lost in the middle of the crowd wants to conceal his dismay under the appearance of exasperation or defiance. . The invective, again, is only a form of pity, a latent desire for patient regeneration, because the painter is totally committed and is both judge and party. Precociously matured by the war of 1914 and painfully affected for four years by its spectacle of destruction and death, he keepst a particular affectivity for human suffering that gives him this faculty of penetration and this astonishing clairvoyance in the face of upheavals and disasters. incessant convulsions of our world. His worried waiting allows him to discern them in their premises and to consider them in terms of the human consequences that will result.

Thanks to this dramatic tension of his mind, the canvases he makes, while reconnecting with the accidental proceed from an authentic inner justification. Sentimental emanations of the moment, they integrate so well with all its possible extensions, that they manage to define the most absolute generality and to impose without the slightest artifice like a true revelation. Creations purely subjective, they offer the double advantage of presenting themselves as the most authoritative document on society as well as on the individual himself, and of asserting themselves as a pathetic message authoritatively authorizing the sovereign and immutable grandeur of the man.
However, we should not confine Goerg in this role of prophet or preacher. If his work is worthy of his desire to decipher human destiny, it has no less its place among the master artistic productions of this time. Historians, forgetting that the visionaries belong to an age-old family, are only too much inclined to underestimate their influence or to neglect their contribution under the vain pretext that they never know to which contemporary current they belong. Our painter did not escape this common law and the label of expressionist which was attached to it, especially caused the worst confusions. Another fact also played against him, it is the stupid habit taken today to measure the importance of an artist among his imitators.

By the character of his work, as well as by his own individualism, which set him up from his youth against the family, he personifies the very type of the independent. His radiant spirituality as well as his imperious demands on time condemn him, like Daumier or Rouault, to live apparently in recluse and alone among his contemporaries. His relationship with them is reflected in the fact that he belongs to a generation that has paid a heavy tribute to the war and whose survivors overwhelmed by his memory, such as La Fresnaye, La Patellière or Alix, Malfray or Gromaire, share with him the same feelings of lost greatness and painful helplessness for today's man. Circumstances rather than art in themselves bring them closer to each other and lead them to adopt an almost identical attitude. But this sense of tragedy, this respect for fatality, this taste for the mysterious, this seriousness of the commitment that they may have in common, is reflected in them in a way that is too different for us to claim to group them together as we have tried so often. The spirit of revolt of a Yves Alix or the powerful exaltation of a Gromaire are more opposed than they are to the subjective violence of Goerg. And the parallel that we wanted to trace to their beginnings between the last two and Le Fauconnier is just as inaccurate as the importance given to their so-called Nordic ancestry - Goerg's mother was English - when we consider their subsequent evolution.

Except in a few paintings executed immediately after the war, our painter, unlike his comrades, has always remained away from Cubist disciplines, not out of disdain of the problems of form or the concerns of the plastic, but by a constant desire to escape from all possible recruitment as much as by an instinctive need to end up with an immediate emotional transcript. His hypersensitivity pushes him to deliver himself with force from his anguish, to materialize it in a world entirely recreated in this goaland which he composes with meticulous care. In the same way, too much has been said about his friendly relations with Gromaire, while obviously their respective paths now seem so divergent. Moreover, was he not, from 1923 to 1924, in full possession of his means and already master of a world of his own, before meeting the next year at Berthe Weill, those who would become his comrades and his friends? friends: Pascin, Gromaire, Per Krogh, etc. The affinities that are soon established between them are more on the moral plane. They will never form a real group; they are gathered because of the limited number of artists of this generation decimated by the war. And it was only much later, in 1934-1935, that Goerg, as he admitted, became aware with the Surrealists that he really belonged to a generation.

When one wants to compare one's attitude with that of foreign expressionists, similar difficulties arise. The degree of elevation and finesse of his satire, the eloquent predominance of his feeling of the strange, the variety of his power of imagination, the subtle simplicity of his means, have almost nothing in common with the exasperation dramatic and the plastic deformations of the Germans or the rural heavinesses of the Flemings. His restraint, his universe of stability and, for a moment, almost silence, his art rich in discrete allusions, his constant mistrust of useless passion, improvisation or free lyricism, also hold him back. One and the other. That he sometimes meets the pamphleteer and the pride of Ensor, or the spontaneity of Tytgat, does not presuppose anything of his particular situation. These are historical correspondences rather than facts. The best proof is doubtless made by Chagall, whose whimsical and fanciful accent is similar to his, but contradicts in density and gravity, I would almost say Pascalian rigor, of his message.

Expressionist, Goerg is not, towards his contemporaries as well as mainly with regard to previous centuries, in the sense that the word denotes not belonging to a school, but a permanent quality of painting: the possibility for this one to reach to the force of expansion of an immediate language and to possess its more total human meaning. In so far as his art partly accedes to that virtue which a Goya or Daumier has masterfully defined, he escapes all arbitrary classification of the moment and is closer to all those who have preceded him.

But at the same time, one can also admit that, by his love of the supernatural, by his remarkable predispositions to acclimate his dreams within reality and to accredit them in such an absolute manner, he is no stranger to the preoccupations of Surrealist, without nevertheless that there are many exchanges between the ones and the others. It is true that a living work goes beyond the frameworks in which one would like to lock it up and keeps its own value under the very pressure of all that surrounds and nourishes it. Thus Goerg's art is sufficient for itself by its only characters.

The universe in which he introduces us is, moreover, intransmissible from the formal point of view, by its own subjectivity, by its very intensity and its power of revelation. Developing itself in the visionary sense, he escapes contemporary currents, similar to that of Brueghel or El Greco, with whom he maintains more spiritual affinities than with any of the representatives of contemporary expressionism. . The moving figures, although reduced to the state of signs, have an eternal value by the force of their accent and their degree of humanity. Stretched and deformed to the point of grinning, simplified and hollowed out to the point of the watermark, they nevertheless present themselves as beings endowed with evidence by the very characters they accuse. Hardly sketched, these allusive silhouettes that retain the awkwardness of intuition, seem to emerge directly from the inner dream. They have the astonished immobility, the naive grandeur of the fairground massacre characters, and belong to the same legendary caricature and familiarity. Their register is almost as restricted and they obey a ritual almost similar evoking the immutable . From the immodest young rake to the unscrupulous matron, from the simple-minded to the boastful, from the matamore to the raptor, the whole human comedy unfolds here in an endless ronde. Does not vice or stupidity always have an identical face! But these traditional types interpreted by an artist of genius with an extraordinary sharpness and a rare sense of observation take an extreme relief and become living symbols that are renewed, while repeating themselves, thanks to their emotional power. A few salient features, a few spots of color are enough to define them accurately and this eloquent synthesis underlines all the internal violence they are responsible for. A shout of call and anguish springs from this immobility waiting, from those frightened eyes that fill the whole face, from these infinite and infinitely elongated contours, treated in dark circles. We forget the apparent anecdote. Is it so much the society of our time that is lambasted and ridiculed, or the man himself in all his false dignity? Are not these evil girls-flowers like the Parques who hold our poor destiny in their hands? Their provocative eroticism responds in advance to our impotent revolt. The constant, sometimes discreet, sometimes triumphant presence of these multicolored bouquets can it be interpreted as a supplication, an offering? We have seen them in recent years, at the height of our distress, during the occupation, filling almost the whole canvas as an invincible promise, a certainty of all our hopes.

And behind all these puppets, who dispute it alternately with burlesque and tragedy, is there not nature condensed into brief forms, suggestive by their very brutality; and especially space, this mysterious space, vague, uncertain, always immense, phosphorescent, which finally imposes itself as the proper sign of fatality, to which no one, being or thing, can escape?

When finally in his paintings from 1933, during the years of crisis and anxiety that preceded the war, and recently in his magnificent series of illustrations for "the Apocalypse" or "the Book of Job", Goerg gives free course to his prophetic imagination and brings up a fantastic universe teeming with foul larvae, is not all the useless desperation of our world today that he discovers in a cosmic message that fits naturally in the metaphysical tradition of great initiates or visionaries, from Hieronymus Bosch to William Blake?

Always life begins again (1958)
oil on canvas


Some exhibitions among countless:

1922: Paris, Panardie Gallery
1922: Salon d'Automne
1925: Paris, Berthe Weill Gallery
1929: Paris, Georges Bernheim Gallery, special exhibition
May-June 1935: Paris, Jeanne Castel gallery Premier Salon of the present time. Goerg is part of the organizing committee, chaired by André Lhote
1937: Édouard Goerg goes to Barcelona in February with six other members of A.E.A.R. He sends nine paintings to the exhibition The Masters of Independent Art 1897-1937 at the Petit Palais in Paris
1954: Venice Biennale. Exhibitions in Cairo, Alexandria and Beirut
1955: exhibitions in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires
1956: exhibitions in Nantes (Mignon-Massart), Reims (André Droulez), Nancy (Librairie des Arts, engravings), Strasbourg (Aktarius), Lausanne (Maurice Bridel and Nane Cailler)
2012: Paris, National Museum of Modern Art (Center Georges Pompidou), Art at War.

Museums and Art Galeries

Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Musée des beaux-arts de Menton
Musée Fabre, Montpellier
Musée des beaux-arts de Reims

Auction results

The record, that we know, of the works of Edouard Goerg in public auctions was established in Drouot October 16, 1994 in Paris. FF302.500 (sales charge included) for an oil on canvas of 80 x 129 cm entitled "The city". The discounted amount in March 2018: € 45,700 or $ 58,300 USD.
Then "The wooden horses on the Champs-Elysees" (FF300,000 fdvi, € 43,500) oil on canvas at Drouot, Paris in 1990, "Life begins again" (FF237,500 fdvi, € 35,700) oil on canvas at Drouot, Paris, in 1993, etc.

You will find below other results with photos. To calculate the discounted amount, use a currency converter with conversion in the past.

Sotheby's - 9 February 2012 - London
Oil on canvas "Le portrait"Cm : 81 x 59,5 cm

Inch : 31 7/8 x 23 3/8
Price realized : £12,500 GBP bpi - £13,720 GBP or €15,600 or $21,900 USD in March 2018

Drouot - 24 November 2010 - Paris
Oil on canvas "Le bal Nègre"
Cm : 60 x 73 cm
Inch : 23 5/8 x 28 3/4
Price realized : €12,000 fbpi - €12,850 or $18,500 USD in March 2018

Drouot - 24 November 2010 - Paris
Oil on canvas "Le bal Nègre"
Cm : 60 x 73 cm
Inch : 23 5/8 x 28 3/4
Price realized : €12,000 fbpi - €12,850 or $18,500 USD in March 2018

Drouot - 29 November 2009 - Paris
Oil on canvas "Les sisters"Cm : 73 x 92 cm
Inch : 28 3/4 x 36 1/4

Price realized : €11,250 bpi - €12,250 or $19,600 USD in March 2018

Ader - 30 May 2007 - Paris
Oil on canvas "Le French Cancan"
Cm : 100 x 50 cm
Inch : 39 3/8 x 19 5/8
Price realized : €12,000 bpi - €13,500 or $19,000 USD in March 2018

Christie's - 8 February 2013 - Londres
Oil on canvas "L'amoureux"Cm : 65 x 54,4 cm
Inch : 25 5/8 x 21 3/8
Price realized : £6,880 fdvi, £7,350 GBP or €8,400 or $11,800 USD in March 2018