Born in 1894 into the desolation of a working-class family in Tournai, Belgium, Lacasse's artistic vocation was first outlined at the local stone quarries where he worked as a young teenager. During the early 1910s, Lacasse took small but roughly cut stones home to draw. These so-called 'Cailloux' are an extraordinary testimony to his vision, for starting from figuration he unwittingly created abstract works and became a pioneer of Abstraction. His status as a pioneer was during his lifetime recognized by eminent critics and writers in Paris and Belgium: Michel SEUPHOR, Maurits BILCKE, Roger BORDIER, and Henry POULAILLE.
Between 1909 and 1931 Lacasse practiced social realist figuration alongside proto-cubism and Abstraction and this may have counted for him loosing his status as a pioneer of Abstraction. However Sonia Delaunay was a staunch defender of Lacasse's work and role as pioneer and newly discovered correspondence between Sonia Delaunay and Joseph Lacasse sheds new light on the relationship between Lacasse and Poliakoff. Having settled in Paris in1925, Lacasse's alliance with Robert Delaunay is well documented as of 1928 onwards. Whilst Poliakoff remained a figurative painter until 1938, Lacasse had already gone through years of Abstraction. The considerable likeness between the works of Lacasse and Poliakoff has given rise to a great debate during the 1950s and 1960s. Now it is established that Lacasse is the defining influence on Serge Poliakoff.
An Jo Fermon