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 Pierre Roy  (1880 - 1950)

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Lived/Active: New York / France/Italy      Known for: painting, printmaking, illustration

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Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries (Artists, R-Z):
A native of the port city of Nantes, France, Pierre Roy was raised by an amateur watercolorist who encouraged his children’s artistic pursuits.  Roy’s family also had a history of seafaring, a legacy that prompted him to consider a naval career.  Instead, he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and, for a short time, studied architecture; he left for Paris in 1900 to assist in the preparations for the Exposition Universelle.

A few years later, Roy attended the Académie Julian and studied with Jean-Paul Laurens.  He began exhibiting his paintings at the Salon des Indépendants and other venues for modern art.  However, Roy’s artistic identity coalesced after he met Giorgio de Chirico and Guillaume Apollinaire in 1913.  Through them, he became associated with the artists who were at the center of the avant-garde, including Pablo Picasso, André Derain, Amedeo Modigliani, and Francis Picabia.  Shortly thereafter, Roy began regularly exhibiting with the group, showing the carefully composed, sharp-edged still-lifes composed of juxtaposed, disparate objects that would become his hallmark.

In 1925, Roy was included in the first Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Pierre in Paris. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, he continued to show with vanguard artists, including Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Jean Arp, and Yves Tanguy.  Roy participated in museum and gallery exhibitions in the United States throughout the 1930s and 1940s, including the Museum of Modern Art’s landmark “Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism” of 1936.  His trompe-l’oeil oil paintings, showcasing his dexterous verisimilitude, often mimicked the three-dimensionality of an upright box or open window.  They merge the traditions of Dutch still-life with the psychological convolutions of the twentieth century.

In 1933, Roy was appointed an official painter for the French Navy, a long-sought achievement. He also designed numerous sets for the theater and the ballet and created several covers for Vogue magazine. He exhibited his work regularly until his death in Milan in 1950.

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