Musicalism is an artistic movement imagined by the painter Henry Valensi at the end of the 1920s, it morphed into a collective movement in 1932 when he created the Association of Musicalist Artists with Charles Blanc-Gatti, Gustave Bourgogne and Vittorio Straquadaini and the publication of their Manifesto (> original version / > revisited version (french)). Musicalist painters use of colour as matter to create vibrations. Valensi talks about sentimental resonances. They seek to synchronise colour and form in space on their canvases in the way a musician arranges sonic matter in direct relation with the emotions they seek to express.

According to Raymond Bayer, Musicalism is more than a school, it is a artistic doctrine. It goes beyond doctrine while containing it since it is a set of knowledges that constitute a system…

Musicalism is at once an artistic movement and the art of movement itself. From 1936, Valensi went as far as animating one of his paintings, by filming thousands of celluloids he had hand-painted one by one, using a camera and the first colour film stock, in a workshop above his studio. Cinepainting was born.

In 1932, Henry Valensi organises the first of twenty-three Musicalist Salons at the Galerie Renaissance à Paris. In 1936, there were no less than six salons across Europe, from Amsterdam to Budapest.

On the occasion of each salon, new artists become associated with the movement: Louis Baudon, Jean Marie Euzet, Georges Filiberti, Arne Hosek, Louise Janin, Ernst Klausz, Frantisek Kupka, Marcel Lempereur-Haut, Felix Del Marle, Lancelot Ney, Jan and Joël Martel, Otto Freundlich, Ossip Zadkine, Robert Mallet-Stevens, etc.

In 1990, the galerie Drouart in Paris organises an exhibition of Musicalist work and publishes the first publication about the movement: Qu’est-ce que le Musicalisme? (What is Musicalism?).

Symphonies (and Fugues)

Henry Valensi’s work on the Symphonies corresponds with the creation of Musicalism in 1932. He begins with Spring Symphony, and followed the natural order of the seasons: Summer, Autumn and Winter Symphonies. His work was already devoid of actual musical references – Valensi only painted two compositions after specific music: Sur la marche funèbre de Chopin (On Chopin’s Funeral March) and Sur les Jeux d’eau de Ravel (On Ravel’s Water Games), exhibited at the Section d’or in 1912. As from 1935, he freed himself from objects entirely by painting the Colour Symphonies. Every colour represents the expression of a certain type of sentiment, according to the theory he developed in his text “La résonance sentimentale des couleurs” (The Sentimental Resonance of Colours). In 1947, Valensi works on lyrical abstractions to do with the elements: the Symphonies of Air, Fire, Water and Earth.


  • Symphonies des saisons
  • 1932 - Symphonie printaniere (étude). Aquarelle
  • 1932 - Symphonie printaniere. Huile
  • 1933 - Symphonie estivale. Huile
  • 1933 - Symphonie de l'automne (étude n°1). Huile sur toile. 147 x 97 cm
  • 1933 - Symphonie hivernale (étude n°1)
  • 1933 - Symphonie hivernale (étude n°2)
  • 1933 - Symphonie hivernale (étude n°3). Aquarelle sur carton. 33 x 25 cm
  • 1933 - Symphonie-hivernale
  • Symphonies des couleurs
  • 1935 - Symphonie bleue
  • 1935 - Symphonie en jaune (étude n°1). Aquarelle
  • 1935 - Symphonie jaune. Huile sur toile
  • 1935 - Symphonie en vert. Huile sur toile. 130 x 97 cm
  • 1946 - Symphonie en rose. Huile
  • 1947 - Fugue en bleu. Huile sur toile. 75 x 100 cm
  • Symphonies des villes
  • 1937 - Symphonie sur Venise
  • 1955 - Symphonie norvegienne. Huile sur toile. 115 x 195 cm
  • 1956 - Symphonie stockholmoise (étude)
  • 1956 - Symphonie stockholmoise
  • 1957 - Symphonie corse. 195 x 130 cm
  • 1957 - Symphonie portugaise. Huile sur toile. 115 x 95 cm
  • Symphonies des éléments
  • 1947 - Symphonie de la terre (étude)
  • 1947 - Symphonie de l'air. Huile sur toile. 96 x 130 cm
  • 1947 - Symphonie du feu (étude)
  • 1948 - Symphonie de l'eau. Huile sur toile. 130 x 96 cm
  • 1948 - Symphonie de la Terre (étude)
  • Autres Symphonies
  • 1951 - Symphonie de la paix
  • 1954 - Symphonie guerrière