An oil paper mounted on canvas measuring 61X50 cm representing seashells placed on a bed of ferns signed lower right by Robert Le Ricolais (1884-1977) work circa 1935.
Robert le Ricolais was born in La Roche-sur-Yon in 1884, and died in Paris in 1977. He was neither an architect, nor an engineer or a mathematician, but an inventor of new forms, structures and static calculations.
His university studies in mathematics and physics were interrupted by the First World War from which he returned seriously injured. From 1918 to 1931, he lived in Paris, attended the academy of Grande-Chaumière and Montparnasse where he worked as a constructivist painter. In 1931, he moved to Nantes to work as an engineer at Air Liquide (1930-1943). During this period, he developed air compressor systems that allowed him to produce abstract, surrealist and constructivist paintings by spraying paint. It can be considered to be a precursor to the spray paint work often used by artists in the street art movements. He files patents. Inspired by the morphostructural riches of nature, its "corrugated sheets and their applications to light metal constructions", he embarked on a lifelong reflection on the economy of materials. During the Second World War, Le Ricolais perfected the Aplex process, consisting of a three-dimensional framework which made it possible, in a context of shortage of materials, to build large spans without an intermediate point of support, usable in particular for sheds, covered markets , halls. He also pays attention to the knot, the central element of spatial structures.
Member of various networks (Union of modern artists, Espace group) he struggles to be recognized in France. In 1951, he emigrated to the United States, where he created the Architectural Structure chair for the School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. Finally, in 1968, he founded the Institute for Research and Applications of Spatial Structures (IRASS) which, upon his death in 1977, became the Le Ricolais Institute.