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 Bernard Lamotte  (1903 - 1983)

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Lived/Active: New York / France      Known for: modernist-leaning landscape, structures, mural

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Bernard La Motte is primarily known as Bernard Lamotte

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Ad Code: 3
Bernard Lamotte
from Auction House Records.
The Plaza
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Paris, on the Boulevard de Vaugirard in 1903. Bernard Lamotte always wanted to be a painter, at the age of six after visiting his ill father in the hospital, he returned home to record the scene in the smallest of details. At the age of 13, a fall down a staircase hospitalized him for two years, then kept him bedridden at home for another. His favorite pastime was watching the changing mood and atmosphere of the Rue de Faubourg St. Honore below his bedroom window.

At age 17 he was accepted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and studied under Fernand Corman and Lucien Simon. Lamotte had moved to New York City by 1935, where he was based during most of his artistic life. Within one year, he had secured a one-man show at the Wildenstein Gallery. His studio above La Grenouille restaurant became a gathering place for many expatriate French artists, writers and actors. He married Lilyan White Kent, an artist and former wife of a Hollywood producer. He became a naturalized citizen in 1951. The couple divided their time between the city apartment and a home in Southampton. He and his wife traveled widely including Tahiti, the West Indies and India among others and continually returned to Paris for his subject matter, capturing fleeting moments of everyday life in the quartiers, parks and cafes. His method was to sketch en plein air and photograph and then complete canvases in his studio.

In 1961 Joseph P. Kennedy commissioned Lamotte to paint a mural for the swimming pool room in the White House. Today the mural is in the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Others were commissioned by corporations, private collectors for their homes and by several restaurants, including the most famous one at New York's La Cote Basque.

In an interview with Time Magazine ("Conductor with a Brush," July 12, 1948) Lamotte said, "My palette is an orchestra. I have all my colors before me and I play with them. With my stick I direct them onto the canvas. The black is the bass and the blue is the piano. I say to the yellow, 'I am coming for you,' and to the pink, 'stay quiet.' Yes, when I paint I am the conductor -- like Toscanini."

Artemis Gallery

Bernard Lamotte was born in Paris in 1903, the son of an insurance clerk. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He came to the United States in 1935, although he often returned to Paris to paint the scenes he most liked. He was an amiable, agitated man who spoke at feverish speed, waving his hands and shrugging his shoulders to fill the holes in his broken English. His studio above La Grenouille restaurant became a gathering place for many expatriate French artists, writers and actors. He married Lilyan White Kent, an artist and former wife of a Hollywood producer. He became a naturalized citizen in 1951. He and his wife traveled widely and continually returned to Paris for his subject matter.

He was meticulous in his sketching, taking shorthand notes on the time of day, the type of window frames, the age or make of an automobile, all with a number code for colors. Then, in his studio, with his oils and canvas, with his notes and numbers, he painted like a conductor leading an orchestra. He died in 1983.

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

Sources include:
Time Magazine, July 12, 1948
From the internet,

Biography from Papillon Gallery:
Bernard Lamotte
1903 – 1983

Lamotte’s style is reminiscent of other artists of the School of Paris, modern with a flare for the romantic. His technique gives his oil paintings the look and texture of a watercolor.

Lamotte was born and educated in Paris where he captured beautifully modern day Parisian city life and street scenes. Lamotte had been bedridden for a period as a child and spent his time studying the color and textures of the cityscape below his window, which would later greatly influence his artistic style and passion.

Lamotte received his formal training at l’École des Beaux- Arts under Fernand Corman and Lucien Simon. Lamotte’s travels took him to New York City in 1932, where he would later settle in 1935 and become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1951. His atelier was located above La Grenouille restaurant where fellow expatriate French artists and famed New York personalities congregated including Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich. The studio, which he and his wife, shared became a bohemian haven and was coined Le Bocal (“The Fishbowl”).

While in New York, between travels to Tahiti and Paris, Lamotte received several mural commissions and exhibitions including a solo show at the Wildenstein Gallery within one year of his arrival. Other exhibits included the Art Institute of Chicago in 1941, the Carstairs Gallery in New York City annually from 1941 – 1950s and a solo show at the Palm Beach Gallery in 1965. Like Pierre Sicard and Grigory Gluckmann, Lamotte was represented by the Dalzell-Hatfield Gallery in Los Angeles, which had an exhibition in 1975.

Lamotte also created a mural for the swimming pool room of the White House in 1961, which now is preserved in the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston. Other commissions include businesses, restaurants corporations and private collectors. Lamotte was an illustrator and theatre designer as well and created the illustrations for Flight to Arras by Antoine de Sanit-Expuréryand.

In 1945 there was an illustrated book published on Lamotte titled Bernard Lamotte, Oil Painting and Brush Drawing, written by Louis Gauthier. In 1948 his work was reviewed in Time magazine.

Museum collections of Lamotte’s work include the Tokyo Museum, Luxembourg Museum and Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris, and the French Embassy in Finland. Private collections include Joseph P. Kennedy and Alfred Barnes among several others.

Bernard Lamotte died in 1983 and the The Vose Gallery of Boston has since hosted several exhibitions from his estate.

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