Yolande Fièvre


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French artist, born in either Paris or Nantes. The uncertainty may derive from her father having been a roving circus performer. According to Iris Clert, her dealer, it was as a consequence of a vow to him on his deathbed that she never wore a skirt, which led to a widespread misconception that she was a lesbian. She studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. In the 1930s she discovered Surrealism and met André Breton and consequently gave up landscape for automatism. Her best-known work was made between the late 1950s and 1960s. These ‘box reliefs’ were constructed from fragments of wood, clay, and pebbles, sometimes inhabited by tiny figures, giving the impression of mysterious cities. The sense of worlds in miniature was something she shared with Bernard Réquichot, whose suicide made a profound impression upon her. After the death of her husband in 1968 she moved into a tiny apartment and had to assign the monkey which was her special companion to the zoo in Vincennes. (The zoo keeper became a closer friend than any of her art world contacts.) Her artistic activity diminished, but an exhibition at the Halles St Pierre in Paris in 2007 has contributed to a posthumous interest in her work.

Further Reading

J Planche, ‘Yolande Fièvre’, L'œuf sauvage, no. 1 (1991)

Subjects: Art.

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