French painter, born at Quiévy, near Cambrai. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Lille, 1900–02, then in 1903 moved to Paris, where he initially painted in a style influenced by the *Impressionists and *Post-Impressionists. However, after taking a studio in the *Bateau-Lavoir in 1909, his work was influenced by *Cubism and by about 1917 he was painting purely abstract compositions. Particularly notable are the decorative painted wood reliefs made in 1919–20.
In the early 1920s he reverted to a more figurative (though still Cubist-influenced) style, in which he did landscapes and portraits, but from about 1926 he turned to pure abstraction again and in 1931 he was a founder member of the *Abstraction-Création association. After the Second World War he painted completely flat compositions featuring simple geometrical shapes (circles, triangles, crescents, and so on) in pure, vivid, unmodulated colours. They were painted according to a highly personal theory of abstract art that he set out in his book L'Art non-figuratif, non-objectif (1949); it was based on correspondences between colours, shapes, forms, and letters of the alphabet. Herbin had an international reputation. He was one of the few French painters who consistently devoted himself to geometrical abstraction over a lengthy period and he had considerable influence on younger abstract artists. He also designed carpets and tapestries.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)