Born in Quiévy, Nord, Auguste Herbin studied drawing at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lille, from 1898 to 1901, when he settled in Paris.
The initial influence of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism visible in paintings that he sent to the Salon des Indépendants in 1906 gradually gave way to an involvement with Cubism after his move in 1909 to the Bateau-Lavoir studios, where he met Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris. At his second exhibition at the Salon des Indépendents of 1910, his work was exhibited in the same room as that of Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes and Fernand Léger. In 1912 he participated in the influential Section d’Or exhibition.
After producing his first abstract paintings, Auguste Herbin came to the attention of Léonce Rosenberg, who, after World War I, made him part of the group centered on his Galerie de l’Effort Moderne. His work was exhibited there on several occasions from 1918 to 1921. Herbin’s radical reliefs of simple geometric forms in painted wood, such as Coloured Wood Relief (1921; Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne), challenged not only the status of the easel painting but also traditional figure-ground relationships. Upon becoming more interested in abstraction, Herbin began to participate in the Salon des Realities Nouvelles. He served as the director of the Salon until 1955 and died in Paris in 1960.