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 Jean Fautrier  (1898 - 1964)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: abstract still life, nudes, and landscape painting and sculpture

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from Auction House Records.
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Jean Fautrier (May 16, 1898 – July 21, 1964) was a French painter and sculptor. He was one of the most important practitioners of Tachisme*.

He was born in Paris. Given his unwed mother's surname, he was raised by his grandmother until her death in 1908, when he went to live with his mother in London.  In 1912 he studied at the Royal Academy of Art*. Unsatisfied by instruction he thought too rigid, he left to study briefly at the Slade School*, which he also found disappointing.  The works he saw in the Tate Gallery* made a far greater impression on him; he especially admired the paintings of J. M. W. Turner.

 He first exhibited his paintings at the Salon d'Automne* in 1922 and at the Fabre Gallery in 1923.  His first solo exhibition was at the Galerie Visconti in Paris, in 1924.

In 1927, he painted a series of pictures (still lifes, nudes, landscapes) in which black dominates, and in 1928 he began work on a series of engravings for an illustrated edition of The Divine Comedy of Dante, prepared by Gallimard (which did not succeed).

Until 1933 he divided his efforts between sculpture and painting. Short on funds, he spent the years 1934–1936 living in the resort of Tignes, where he made his living as a ski instructor and started a jazz club.

Fautrier resumed painting in 1937, and in 1943 made his twenty-second and last sculpture. The same year, stopped by the German gestapo, he fled Paris and found refuge in Châtenay-Malabry, where he began work on the project of the Otages. These paintings were exhibited in 1945 with the Drouin gallery. In the years that followed, Fautrier worked on the illustration of several works, among them Alleluiah by George Bataille, and made a series of paintings devoted to small familiar objects.

His late work is abstract*, generally small in scale, often combining mixed media on paper. He died in Châtenay-Malabry in 1964. A retrospective was organized by the Gianadda Foundation at Martigny in January–March 2005.


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