|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Living in Paris in an atelier* in Villa des Ternes, a "tucked away"
section in the midst of the city, Olivier Foss has sought to work
undisturbed by the hustle and bustle of the city, whose structures and
urban scenes are subjects of much of his painting. " The interior of
his atelier is dominated by a huge studio easel. Canvases,
records and musical instruments are piled up on a large couch, on which
now and then models pose for the artist, whereas the great number of
books on the shelves made us guess that an alert and always prospecting
spirit is at work within these walls, a spirit gradually formed and
deepened by a great number of human experiences."|
It is logical to conclude that his lifestyle of living quietly and
perhaps a bit reclusively is related to a search for calm from a life
that "has been rather turbulent." He was born in Hanover, Germany
to a father who was a professor of philosophy and of graphic arts,
which meant that his maturing son was exposed to a view of life that
embraced both artistic freedom and analytical thinking. Foss took
his secondary education in Berlin at Franzoswische Gymnasium, and
subsequently went to Paris where he studied at the Lycee Pasteur and
Lycee Janson de Sailly. This educational period was followed by
instruction with Paul Colin and Jean Dupas at the Ecole des Beaux Arts*.
Then Foss went to New York City and worked with Maria Annot and Ruth
Jacoby, who organized Foss' first one-man exhibition at the Riverside
Museum. A second exhibition took place at the New School for
Social Research*. Shortly after, he exhibited paintings at the
1964 World's Fair, the National Art Club* and the Alma Reed
Gallery. He also enrolled at the Art Students League* where he
took a drawing class from George Bridgman.
However, his existence in New York was difficult because he had much
distraction from making his own art because of needing to earn
money. He worked as a poster designer, laboratory technologist,
violin teacher and book illustrator.
Foss then moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he took the
position of Fine Arts instructor at the University of Elizabethtown and
at the same time, pursued his interest in science by studying for a
Bachelor of Science degree. After graduating, he taught
Bacteriology in Philadelphia and worked as a Laboratory
Technologist. Then he moved to Switzerland and enrolled at the
University of Basel to study more science. However,
the call was strong to pursue his art talent, and in 1949, he left the
university at Basel and returned to Paris, where he settled into the
above mentioned atelier at Villa des Ternes.
Two years later, he had a one-man exhibition tour of the United States,
showing in New York City, Boston, Palm Beach, and
Philadelphia. In 1952, he returned to Paris, and exhausted, went
into isolation to pursue his "new pictorial projects, which had
haunted his mind for many years."
In 1953, he had a career-changing exhibition, in that it brought him
much positive public attention, and had paintings reflective of themes
that ‘had haunted his mind’. Titled "Life's Deaths and Summits",
the venue was the Galerie Drouant-David on the Rue du Faubourg Saint
Honore in Paris. Each painting was intended to represent the ego
in search of redemption, "the desperate voyage through the most acute
stages of our existence: Love Hatred, Sadism, Crime and Death
itself, in which life's rending conflicts find their supreme solution."
This exhibition drew promoters for international exhibitions, and
subsequent representation in Paris at the famous Gallery Charpentier.
The 1960s began with Foss and painter Armand Nakache organizing a large
exhibition titled "Expressionnismes" at the Musee Galliera in Paris,
followed by one-man shows in Switzerland and Germany.
When his mother died in 1968, Foss returned to Philadelphia to be with
his father, who was Professor of Philosophy at Haverford
College. Foss exhibited painting in Philadelphia and then
New York City where he met film producer Raymond Stross, who persuaded
him to join him and film star, Fred Astaire, in Venice, Italy to
participate in making a film, Midas Run. During this time, Foss
painted a portrait of actress Anne Heywood, wife of Stross. He
also exhibited his paintings at galleries in Venice, Cannes, and
Geneva. Returning to Paris, he accepted the offer to be
represented at the Gallery of Christian-Gilbert Stiebel on the Rue du
Faubourg Saint Honore, an arrangement that lasted from 1972 to
1974. He also had a book of poetry published in Germany.
In 1975, Olivier Foss had his first retrospective exhibition, which was
held at the Stadttheater of Sank Gallen. From then until the mid
1980s, he worked diligently at his Paris studio, and his wife, Fides
Foss, organized exhibitions for him in Germany, France and
Switzerland. This exposure brought him added attention and
prosperity and allowed him to work in his studio on canvases inspired
by spiritualism, which blend aesthetics with expressiveness to develop
themes of psychology, mythology, and allegory.
Of him it is written: "Olivier Foss, who clings with vehemence to the
stormy trend of our time, fulfills the challenging task to reveal, to
enlighten through his art, the heaviest burdens of mankind.
Constructive realism, architectural abstraction, mystical surrealism
fuses and solidify into one compact whole of a very personal style,
intensity and vision."
Website of the artist, www.oliverfoss.fr/Ofoss
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see
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