(French, 1875–1963) was a painter and printmaker associated with the Cubist movement, and was also noted for his realist and abstract works. Born in Damville, Eure, in the Haute-Normandie region of France, Villon was the brother of artists Suzanne Duchamp
, Raymond Duchamp-Villon
, and Marcel Duchamp
. In 1894, he went to Paris to study law, but gradually developed an interest in art, spending the next several years doing illustrations for newspapers. In 1903, Villon was one of the founding members of the Salon d’Automne, and, three years later, became a full-time painter.
Initially, Villon painted in a Neo-Impressionist style, but eventually developed his own signature approach, which combined the flat, geometric shapes of Cubism with a bright color palette. In 1912, he and several other artists formed the Section d’Or (“Golden Section”), a name Villon took from classical mathematics to emphasize the group’s interest in geometric proportions.
After exhibiting in The Armory Show in New York in 1913, Villon served in the French army during World War I. During the 1920s, he produced a number of abstract compositions based on color theory, and worked as a commercial printmaker for a gallery.
Villon’s reputation continued to grow after World War II, and he returned to a partially realistic treatment in his portraits and landscapes, combining Impressionist colors and Cubist forms. In addition, he continued to work as a printmaker, producing over 600 lithographs, drypoints, engravings, and etchings. In 1938, he was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. In 1947, he was promoted to Officier of the Legion of Honor. In 1950, Villon received the Carnegie Prize, and, four years later, he became a Commandeur of the Legion of Honor. He was also commissioned to design stained-glass windows for the cathedral in Metz, France. Two retrospective shows of his paintings and prints took place in New York in 1953, and he was awarded the Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale in 1956.
Villon died in his studio at Puteaux at the age of 87. Today, his works are part of the collections of major international institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia.