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 Armand Merizon  (1920 - 2010)

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Lived/Active: Michigan/New York      Known for: regional landscape and seascape painting, photography, commercial art

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Armand  Merizon
An example of work by Armand Merizon
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Chantal Merizon Van Heest, daughter of the artist.

Armand Merizon was a “painter’s painter,” master of the media of oil, acrylic, casein and tempera, constant experimenter the the new grounds, brush techniques, and color relationships, student of the scientific aspects of paint luminosity and preservation.

Merizon was renowned for his prolific range of compositions that reveal stark realism, lyrical and geometric abstraction, and layers of transparency and color. His legacy as a veteran teacher with both technical expertise and a life encompassing vision to express is highly respected by both amateur and professional painters. 

Asked when he first started painting, Merizon replied: “I never stopped”.

Armand Merizon was born February 28, 1920 in Kalamazoo, Michigan to a family of first generation Dutch immigrants of French extraction. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he began to paint and sell his work at the age of 10. He attended Davis Vocational and Technical High School and was awarded a national scholarship to Vesper George School of Art in Boston, Massachusetts. Disliking the school program he began visiting the Boston Museum of Fine Art instead. There he gleaned valuable information on technique and preservation. He also spent hours studying the work of the great masters.

He returned to Grand Rapids and enrolled at Calvin College as a pre-seminary student, but dropped out after a year and traveled to Cody, Wyoming, where he acquired a great lasting love for the West. Returning to Grand Rapids, he worked in a plywood factory while pursuing his art. Eventually he moved to New York City where he sought to combine commercial art with fine art, but soon realized that was not going to happen.

He enlisted in the U.S. Air Corp where he was assigned as an aerial photographer. After WWII, Merizon returned to Grand Rapids, rented a studio and briefly taught at Kendall School of Design. He met Betty Grainger and they were married in 1950.

The Merizons had five children: Michele, René, Mark, Chantal and Aimé. They spent their early years in Frankfort, Michigan, where Armand explored the moods of Lake Michigan and the dunes.

In 1960 Merizon was awarded a European Arts Fellowship by the Keeler Foundation, which allowed him to travel and paint throughout France, Italy, Spain, Austria and Germany.  In 1968 the family moved to a farm atop a high hill in Caledonia, Michigan, just south of Grand Rapids. A converted chicken coop served as Merizon’s studio where he painted with a freedom and gusto unsurpassed in his career.

In his later years, Armand was a member and the undisputed dean of the West Michigan Eight, a name given to a group of artists by the Muskegon Museum of Art, all natives of West Michigan. The group still meets to share common ground adn diverse views of art, and exhibits on a regular basis.

In spite of being challenged by failing eyesight and health problems, Merizon continued to paint until his recent death in April of 2010.

His career was summarized in an article entitled “The Dean of 8” by Nancy Davis,

He paints an honest reflection of us , through seven decades now. A humble giant, who voices the deepest thoughts and feelings of humanity: he continues to inspire  his paint and images with experimentation, truth, beauty and light.

A Grand Rapids legend, he promised, “I will paint until my nose touches the canvas”.

Merizon died in the spring of 2010.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information accompanied Armand, a 2005 documentary of the artist.

Armand Merizon is an 86 year-old, nearly blind, fine artist who lives and works in Caledonia, Michigan. Armand, born February 28, 1920, in Kalamazoo, Michigan to a family of first generation Dutch immigrants of French extraction, spent his childhood in urban neighborhoods of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he began to paint at age 10. At age 16 he won a scholarship to Vesper George Art School in Boston, where he studied painting. After training there, he moved north to Maine and began to study the sea, which became the subject of many of his paintings. Sometime later Armand completed coursework at the Phoenix School of Design in New York.

During the course of his life, Armand has also received numerous fellowships and patronages for artist performance and study in both the United States and Europe.

Over the course of his 70 year career as a fine artist, Armand has been selected for more than 35 exhibitions and gallery showings. His works have been collected by patrons nationally and internationally. He has been featured in dozens of magazines and newspapers. His paintings have been printed as limited editions in the United States and England and he has won numerous regional and national awards. Over the years, Merizon has been invited to teach and lecture at civic, cultural, and educational gatherings. He was also a founding member of the Grand Valley Artists, a group that continues to promote the arts and artists in Western Michigan.

Even after being diagnosed with macular degeneration in the late 1980’s and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and prostate cancer, Merizon continues his daily painting regime, often eight to ten hours a day. Even under such physical limitations, he continues to produce many significant works, changing his style and technique to accommodate his failing eyesight. “I will paint,” says Merizon, “until my nose touches the canvas.”

Though widely known throughout Michigan, Merizon’s work should not be left out of the canon of Great American 20th Century Artists. His versatility in style, content, and technique clearly demonstrate he is a master of fine arts; a true renaissance artist of the 20th century

Online Source:
http://www.armandmerizondocumentary.com/About-Artist.htm

Of the documentary it was written: Armand traces the story of a quiet Michigan hero who, with the undying support of his wife and family, prevailed to become one of this country’s greatest artists despite the poverty of the Great Depression, rejection from his community, financial destitution, pressure to mass produce his art, and the physical maladies of macular degeneration, cancer, and arthritis. Carving his own path, Armand leaves us a legacy of beauty, integrity, and perseverance, values we need to be reminded of in this fast-paced world.

“It’s about time somebody acknowledges this man’s genius and recognizes his contributions to this city, our country, and the world.”
Paul Collins, International Artist

“I hope I can leave something that is not just interesting or challenging, but that gives people a lift. . . on the one hand joy and on the other hand reverence.”
Armand Merizon, Artist

http://www.armandmerizondocumentary.com/

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