French painter, theatre designer, and illustrator. He was born in Douai in northern France and died in Paris. In 1927 he moved to Ostend, where he met James Ensor, who was to be a lasting influence. He returned to France in 1937 but his style of Surrealist painting always had a closer affinity with the Belgians René Magritte and Paul Delvaux than with the Paris-based artists of the movement. Certain of his paintings carry an obvious political import. In La Terreur blanche (1945) the King and Queen from a pack of cards are holed up in a derelict building, doggedly defending themselves to the last against revolution, while Le Délassement de l'odalisque (1968) confronts a nude reminiscent of Ingres with a scene of colonial warfare in North Africa. More frequently he aimed at a perverse eroticism. As in a fetishist's obsession, the female head is veiled, obscured, or even replaced by that of an animal. The blue nude became something of a trademark. The poet Jacques Prévert praised him because ‘he shows beautiful images, delicately bloodied’. This was especially true of the object shown at the 1964 exhibition of Surrealism at the Galerie Charpentier in Paris. An exquisitely manicured hand in plaster, severed by an axe, was accompanied by the message ‘My love, you asked me for my hand, I give it to you’.
From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.