Bastin, Louis (1912-1979)

Bastin, Louis (1912-1979)

Childhood whimsy and the joys of the every day are the main focus in the works of etcher Louis Bastin.

Born to French and German parents, the First World War necessitated Bastin’s move to Sweden as a young boy. Nonetheless, his art education became Europe-wide, as he pursued studies in Paris and Cologne. However, it was the Swedish Royal Academy of Fine Arts where Bastin first became enthralled by the graphic arts, and in particular engraving.

Apparently, Bastin had always possessed a cunning artistic ability. As a five-year-old, his art had been received very favourably in Dadaist circles, until it became known that they were, in fact, the works of a child!

As an adult, such success continued. Bastin’s works were praised and admired. They were noted most of all for their post-impressionistic influences. In particular, the works of Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) and Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) were seen as clear influences. The bold, simplistic outlines that Bastin gives to his figures are a testament to this influence. It adds sophistication to his work which also becomes evocative of the spirit of his most common subject: children.

Bastin was much enamoured with scenes of everyday life in the bustling city of Stockholm. In particular, the lives of children as they went about their day, from school to ballet classes, or to the sports grounds for play, were appealing. His post-impressionistic inspired style lends itself to a whimsical, innocent view of these children. Defining their expressions in bold contours, he captures the adolescent pout of their lips as they concentrate intently on a task. A figure of a young child carrying a large ball has an added sense of whimsy through Bastin’s vibrant colouring. It emphasises the cylindrical shape of the ball clasped in small hands, splayed in an attempt to contain it.

Bastin became renowned as the only masterful colour engraver in Sweden. Colour engraving, and engraving, in particular, had become rather unpopular within the country. Bastin and other engravers such as Stig Borglind (1892-1965), however, were determined to revitalise the art within Sweden. Exhibitions were held and Bastin would find celebration later in life, with solo exhibitions for his work held in the 1970s. Today, many of his works are held in the Gothenburg Art Museum, as well as outside of Sweden in the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway.

1912

Born in Moscow, Russia.

1919

Moved to Sweden.

1934-1935

Studied in Paris, France.

1936-1942

Studied at the Swedish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

1970

Solo exhibition of works held.

1973

Solo exhibition of works held.

1979

Died in Lidingö, Sweden.

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