Jean Fautrier


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(b Paris, 16 May 1898; d Chatenay-Malabry, Seine-et-Oise, 21 July 1964).

French painter, sculptor, and printmaker. He is best known for the paintings in his Hostages series, inspired by his horror at the brutality and suffering of the Second World War. These strange paintings feature layer upon layer of heavy paint creating a central image that is abstract but suggests a decaying human head. The pale powdery colours evoke death, but the delicacy of the handling gives them a mysterious ambivalence. They were first exhibited at the Galerie René Drouin in Paris in 1945 and were much acclaimed. They have been seen as forerunners of Art Informel, and with the post-war vogue for this kind of expressive abstraction Fautrier gained a reputation as one of the leading painters of the École de Paris. In 1960 he won the Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale. Fautrier's other works included sculpture and prints (notably lithographs illustrating Dante's Inferno, 1928), and he developed a novel type of work he called ‘multiple originals’, printing a basic drawing on anything up to 300 canvases and then completing each work by hand. He first exhibited such works in 1950.

Subjects: Art.

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