Perle Fine’s Le Papillon


Perle Fine (1905-1988)
Le Papillon
c. 1946
Watercolor, gouache, and chalk on paper
12.25 x 16.25 inches
Signed lower right

Collection of Helen Farr Sloan, Wilmington, DE
Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA


Perle Fine was born in Boston in 1905, but moved to New York City in her teens to study at the Art Students League. By the 1930s she had developed a distinctly abstract style. In the early 1940s, Fine was one of the very few women promoted by Hilla Rebay and the Guggenheim Museum. Greatly influenced by Hans Hoffman, whose studio at one point was located across from her own, Fine employed his method of dissecting Cubism into its formal components in order to navigate her geometric abstractions.
In 1950 she was sponsored by Willem de Kooning and was one of the first women members of the 8th Street Club. Fine’s oeuvre, at once vibrant and composed, explored a dynamic variety of styles and ideas. Her work accentuated the beauty of rhythmic variations and the subtle nuances of color, line, shape and space. She once said: “My paintings, like my lithographs, deal not in definition, but rather with the art of evocation and suggestion. I strive at a certain simplicity by cutting away all the non-essential elements, and whatever calligraphy remains is only that necessary to qualify the forms and render a purer deeper emotion.”
Perle Fine exhibited her work extensively in solo and group shows during her lifetime. Her work is represented in many important private and public collections, including Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts; Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; New York University Art Collection; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; University of California Art Museum, Berkeley; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.