Auguste Herbin (1882–1960) was born into a craftsman family in a small village at the Belgian border in 1882. He later studied drawing at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1898-1901 when he settled in Paris.
His initial influence of Impressionism and Fauvism, visible in the paintings he sent to the Salon des Independants in 1906, later gave way to an investigation of Cubism. This evolved after he moved to the Bateau-Lavoir studios in 1909, where he met Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris. At his second exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants one year later, his work was exhibited in the same room as that of Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes and Fernand Léger. 1912, he was included in the influential Section d’Or exhibition.
After producing his first abstract paintings, Herbin came to the attention of Léonce Rosenberg who, after World War I, made him part of the group centered on his Galerie de l’Effort Moderne. His work was exhibited there on several occasions from 1918 to 1921. Herbin’s radical reliefs of simple geometric forms in painted wood, such as Coloured Wood Relief (1921; Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne), challenged not only the status of the easel painting but also traditional figure-ground relationships.
The harsh criticism towards these reliefs and related furniture designs, even from those most favorable towards Cubism, was so devastating that Auguste Herbin heeded Rosenberg’s advice and returned to a representational style until 1927. Herbin himself later disowned the landscapes, still-lifes and genre scenes of this period, such as Bowls Players (1923; Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne), in which the objects were depicted as schematized volumes.
He died in Paris in 1960 at the age of 78.