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Pierre Alechinsky

 (born 1927)
Pierre Alechinsky is active/lives in Belgium, France.  Pierre Alechinsky is known for expressionist painting, engraving.

Pierre Alechinsky

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Pierre Alechinsky

Pierre Alechinsky was born in 1927 in Brussels, Belgium. As a young man, Alechinsky became a member of the CoBrA, an experimental group that included the Dutch artists Karel Appel and Asger Jorn.  They sought an art that would express basic or primeval desires, of direct expression unguided by the intellect. Rather than working with a Freudian attitude learned from the Surrealists, these painters worked in a tradition of Nordic mythology and northern Expressionism.  Strongly emotional, anti-traditional and anti-aesthetic, Alechinsky's canvases are spontaneously covered with rhythms of thick paint and heavy colors.

Alechinsky paints, and also writes, in Bougival near Paris, where Georges Bizet died and Turgenev survived, and he resides on a street named for the French author Henri Barbusse.  He introduced the formal innovations for which he is perhaps best known - surrounding an image with a drawn or painted frame upon which he makes anecdotal sketches, as one would make marginal notes in a book.  At the same time he began using acrylics on paper, a combination he favored for its fluidity and quickness to dry.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Laurie Attias in ARTnews, January 1999

Biography from Denis Bloch Fine Art
Pierre Alechinsky was born on October 19, 1927, in Brussels, Belgium.  From an early age Alechinsky was interested in graphic arts, and in 1944, he entered the Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture et des Arts Decoratifs in Brussels, where he studied book illustration and typography.  He also painted in a post-Cubist style and later in a manner reminiscent of Belgian Expressionist painter James Ensor.

In 1948 a group of Nordic Expressionist artists including Appel, Jorn, Constant, Carl-Henning Pedersen, and Corneille formed the CoBrA group.  The name of the group was taken from the initials of the member's home cities: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam.  The CoBrA artists created under the doctrine of complete freedom of color and form, utilizing the spontaneity and experimentation of primitive or folk arts.  They also drew inspiration from Modern artists Joan Miro and Paul Klee.

Alechinsky enthusiastically joined CoBrA in 1949, and participated in the first Internationale "tentoonstelling experimentele kunst- CoBrA" that year at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.  He became a central figure in the group and organized its second international exhibition in Liège, Belgium, in 1951.  Shortly thereafter CoBrA disbanded.

Alechinsky moved to Paris in 1951 to study printmaking under a grant from the French government.  He studied engraving with Stanley William Hayter at the Atelier 17 in 1952.  He successfully explored all techniques of printmaking including etching engraving, aquatint and lithography on traditional and nontraditional papers.  About the same time he became fascinated by Japanese calligraphy, and in 1955 he went to Tokyo and Kyoto.  There he visited masters of the art and produced the award winning film Calligraphie Japonaise.  In the 1960s, Alechinsky traveled extensively in Europe, the United States and Mexico and participated in numerous international exhibitions.

An Alechinsky exhibition organized by The Arts Club of Chicago toured the United States in 1965, and the Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts organized a large retrospective of prints and paintings in 1969.  Alechinsky represented Belgium at the 1972 Venice Biennale and exhibitions of his work followed in Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Holland, Mexico and Switzerland securing his worldwide artistic reputation.  Alechinsky became the first recipient of the prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Prize for artists in 1976. The prize was accompanied by a 1977 major retrospective of his work in all media at the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh.

From 1983-1987 Alechinsky was a professor of painting at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts.  In 1994 he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Brussels, and in 1995 one of his designs was used on a Belgian stamp. The artist continues to paint and create original prints and book illustrations at his home in Bourgival, France.

"Of course, when one is faced with a canvas, one is no longer alone, and the sense of solitude diminishes. This can be an agreeable passage of time. In fact, solitude then becomes a kind of companion."

Select Museum Collections:
Museum of Modern Art, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN
Tate Gallery, London
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Walker Art Center, Minnesota

Biography from
Biography photo for Pierre Alechinsky
Pierre Alechinsky (born 19 October 1927) is a Belgian artist. Alechinsky was born in Brussels as a son of Russian-Jewish immigrants.

In 1944 he attended the l'Ecole nationale supérieure d'Architecture et des Arts décoratifs de La Cambre, Brussels where he studied illustration techniques, printing and photography. In 1945 he discovered the work of Henri Michaux, Jean Dubuffet and developed a friendship with the art critic Jacques Putman.  In 1949 he joined Christian Dotremont, Karel Appel, Constant, Jan Nieuwenhuys and Asger Jorn to form the art group Cobra. He participated both with the Cobra exhibitions and went to Paris to study engraving at Atelier 17 under the guidance of Stanley William Hayter in 1951.

In 1954 he had his first exhibition in Paris and started to become interested in oriental calligraphy. In the early 1950s he was the Paris correspondent for the Japanese journal Bokubi (the joy of ink). In 1955, encouraged by Henri Storck and Luc de Heusch, he left for Japan with his wife. He exhibited Night, 1952 (Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki) and made a film: Japanese Calligraphy - Christian Dotremont would write the commentary with music by André Souris.

By 1960 he had exhibited in London, Bern and at the Venice Biennial, and then in Pittsburgh, New York, Amsterdam and Silkeborg as his international reputation grew.

He worked with Walasse Ting and continued to be close to Christian Dotremont. He also developed links with André Breton.

His international career continued throughout the seventies and by 1983 he became Professor of painting at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. In 1994 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Free University of Brussels, and in 1995 one of his designs was used on a Belgian stamp.

His works are held in the collections of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Tate, Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the New York Museum of Modern Art and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

He has lived and worked in France since 1951.

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About  Pierre Alechinsky

Born:  1927 - Brussels, Belgium
Known for:  expressionist painting, engraving