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Jean Lurçat

Jean Lurçat, was born in Bruyères, Vosges, on the 1st of July, 1892, the son of Lucien Jean Baptiste Lurçat and Marie Emilie Marguerite L'Hote, and died on the 6th of January, 1966 at Saint-Paul de Vence was a renovator of contemporary tapestry.


Jean Lurçat was born on the 1st of July, 1892, 2 years before his brother, André, who became an architect. After his secondary education at Épinalmarker, he enrolled at La Faculté des sciences de Nancymarker and studies medicine. He goes to Switzerlandmarker and Germanymarker (Munichmarker) and in leaving his educational path, he went to the workshop of Victor Prouvé, the head of the École de Nancy.

Painting and the War

In 1912, Jean Lurçat takes residence in Parismarker with his brother, André. He en-rolled at the Académie Colarossi, then at the workshop of the engraver, Bernard Naudin. He meets painters such as Matisse, Cézanne, Renoir and becomes close to Rainer Maria Rilke, Bourdelle, Elie Faure, etc ... and founded with the 3 friends the Feuilles de Mai (The leaves of May), a journal of art involving the celebrities. He then became an apprentice of the painter, Jean-Paul Lafitte with whom he lead an exhibition at La faculté des sciences de Marseillemarker. His first journey to Italy was interrupted in August by the declaration of war. Back in France, he joins the infantry, but as he falls ill, is evacuated on the 15th of November. During his recovery to health, in 1915, he practised painting and lithography. In July, 1916, he returned to the front, injured, he is evacuated once again. He never returns to the front. From September, his art is put on exhibition in Zürichmarker.

Discovery of Tapestry

In 1917, Jean Lurçat made his first tapestries: Filles Vertes (Green Girls) and Soirée dans Grenade (Evening in Grenada). From the end of the war in 1918, he returned to Switzerland where he had a holidayTicinomarker (Swiss Italy), with Rilke, Busoni, Hermann Hesse and Jeanne Bucher. His second exhibition took place in Zürichmarker in the same year. In 1920, he travelled a lot: Berlinmarker, Munichmarker, Romemarker, Naplesmarker. Then he took up residence in Parismarker with Marthe Hennebert. It was she who wove 2 tapestries: Pêcheur (Fisherman) and Piscine (Swimming pool). He unveiled in the same year, at Le Salon des Indépendants, 2 tapestries and 4 paintings. He met the art merchant, Étienne Bignou.

In 1921, Jean Lurçat, met Louis Marcoussis, he discovered Picasso and Max Jacob, and created decoration and costumes, for Le spectacle de la Compagnie Pitoeff: "He who receives slaps", and then spends the autumn near the Baltic sea. The following year, He created his 5th tapestry, Le Cirque (the circus), for Mme. Cuttoli. His first personal exhibition took place in Parismarker in April and September. He made a large decoration on a wall (no longer visible today) at the Castle of Villeflix. Then he went to Berlinmarker, where he met Busoni.During 2 years, Lurçat retook up travelling. In 1923, he went to Spainmarker; in 1924, he went to North Africa, the Sahara, Greece and Asia Minor. Upon his return, he signed a contract without exclusivity with his friend, Étienne Bignou. His brother André built his new house , Villa Seurat, in Parismarker. He devotes a portion of the year 1924 to the making of his 6th tapestry, Les arbres (The trees). On the 15th of December, he married Marthe Hennebert and travels in 1925 to Scotland, then Spain and northern Africa. Upon his return, he takes up residence at La Villa Seurat. He takes part in several expositions with Raoul Dufy, Marcoussis, Laglenne and others. He reveals, at the home of Jeanne Bucher; elements of decoration (Carpets and paintings) of Vertige, a film by Marcel l'Herbier. In 1926, he is personally unveiled in Parismarker and Brusselsmarker; and participated to collective exhibitions in Viennamarker], Parismarker, Anvers. His fame began due to several articles devoted to him.

Years of Glory

With the company of Marthe, he departed in 1927 for the Orient and spent the summer in Greece and in Turkey. He decorated the lounge of the family of David David-Weill. There are 4 tapestries in developing and implementing L'Orage (The storm), for George Salles (Musée national d'art moderne National museum of modern art). He returned to Greece and Italy (Rome) in 1928. Before embarking in October, for The United States of Americamarker, for his first exhibition in New Yorkmarker. He spends 1929 in Marco. In 1930, he had exhibitions in Paris, London, New-York, Chicagomarker and illustrated 9 dry-points Les Limbes (The limbo) of Charles-Albert Cingria. Then he spent time in America and divorced Marthe Hennebert. The following year, 1931, he married Rosane Timotheef and they took up residence in Veveymarker (Switzerlandmarker). He wrote several articles about painting, he reduced his production of pictures.In December, 1932, he participated in the exhibition Sélections with Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Derain and Raoul Dufy; an event organised in New Yorkmarker by the Valentine Gallery. Being aligned with the the far left, from then on he often mixed his political opinions with his art. In 1933, he was living in New Yorkmarker. He created the decoration and the costumes for the Jardin Public (Public garden), a ballet by George Balanchine. 1933 also saw his first tapestry sown at Aubusson, following the new and revolutionary technique that he developed.

Expositions in the USSRmarker

In 1934, he returned to New York where he participated in the creation of new decoration and costumes for a choreography of Balanchine; which he unveiled in Chicago and Philadelphia. Then he returned to Paris and Vevey for summer. At the of summer, he departed for Moscow, where he did an exhibition at the Musée Occidental (Western Museum), then at the museum of Kiev. In 1935, he painted the Dynamiteros in Spain; with inspiration from the revolution and the War of Spain. In Parismarker, he participated in the activities of the Association of the revolutionary authors and artists. Then, he followed, with Malraux and Aragon, the Journées d'amité pour l'union sovétique (The afternoons of friendship for the soviet union). In 1936, he did an exhibition in Londonmarker and released his first tapestry, made at la manufacture des gobelins (The manufacturing of the goblins), Les Illusions d'Icare (The Illusions of Icare). In 1937, he met François Tabard.

Vision of the apocalypse

In 1936, Jean Lurçat was inspired when he saw the tapestry L'Apocalypse (the apocalypse), which was woven in the 14th century. In 1938, moisson was sown. In 1939, he exhibited in New Yorkmarker and in Parismarker. In September, he took up residence in Aubusson with Gromaire and Dubreuil in order to return life to a tapestry, who at the time underwent a disaster and he developed a new technical term. Then, he abandoned oil painting, in favour of poster paints. The Musée national d'Art moderne (National museum of modern art) acquired Jardin des Coqs (Garden of roosters) and L'home aux Coqs (The man of the Roosters), of which the cardboard would be destroyed by the S.S. in 1944 in Lanzacmarker. In 1940, he collaborated with André Derain and Raoul Dufy.


In June, 1994. He associated himself with the fighters of the communist resistance, namely, Tristan Tzara, André Chamson, René Huyghe, Jean Cassou, Jean Agamemnon. He was put on the Comité de Libération (Comity of Liberation). He also met Simone Selves who would later become his wife. His adoptive son, Victor was caught on an intelligence mission in France and was put to death. Lurçat would not learn of his disappearance until the following year.


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