Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (French, born July 5, 1889–died October 11, 1963) was among the best, most multi-talented artists of the 20th century. He was a novelist, poet, designer, dramatist, filmmaker, artist, and playwright. He started writing at the age of 10, and, by age 16, was already an established poet. Most of his works were influenced by psychoanalysis, Surrealism, the Catholic religion, Cubism, and sometimes opium. During his time, Cocteau was a promoter of unconventional fashion and styles. He was connected to well-known artists, including writer Marcel Proust, Pablo Picasso, composer Eric Satie, and director Serge Diaghilev.

At the age of 19, Cocteau published La Lampe d'Aladin, his premier compendium of poems. Although he embraced Catholicism at first, he shunned religion entirely toward the end of his life. Following the First World War, he was an ambulance chauffeur in Belgium, where the novel Thomas l'imposteur originated. Some of his very significant works of art were created during the years when he had become addicted to opium. These include Les Enfants terribles (1929) and Orphée (1926). Many other artists believed his most important play to be La Machine Infernale (1934). In 1930, he produced his first film, Le Sang d'un poète. In the 1940s, he reverted back to creating films, initially as a screenwriter, and, finally, as a director. This allowed him to produce such acclaimed films as Orphée (1949), La Belle et la Bête (1945), and Le Testament d'Orphée (1960).

Throughout his filmmaking career, Cocteau created around 12 films, each using heavily surrealistic and symbolic imagery. When it comes to music, Cocteau had a close connection with a group of composers called Les Six. His other collaborations included ballet scenarios for Darius Milhaud and Erik Satie, Le Boeuf sur le toit (1920), as well as librettos for Milhaud and Igor Stravinsky. As an artist, he published several books with vivid illustrations, and worked as a designer.

Timeline

1889
Born in Yvelines, France
1900–1904
Attended the Lycée Condorcet in Paris, France, however, left school shortly afterwards to pursue a writing career
1908
Published his first collection of poems, La Lampe d'Aladin (Aladdins Lamp)
Met the famous Russian ballet-impresario Sergei Diaghilev, who ran the Ballets Russes
1920
Founded the magazine Le Coq together with Raymond Radiguet
1929
Published hiis most famous novel, Les Enfants Terribles(Children of the Game)
1930
Made the first film, Le Sang d'un poète
1949
Was awarded a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour
1950
Won the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival
1955
Became a member of the Académie française and The Royal Academy of Belgium
1963
Died in Milly-la-Forêt, France

Exhibitions

2013
The Furnace of the Angels and All'Ambic - MUDAC - Musée de design es d`arts appliques contemporains, Lausanne
The Drawing Project - Frost Art Museum, Miami, FL
sous influences - arts plastiques et psychotropes - La Maison Rouge, Paris
Picasso, Matisse, Chagall u.a. – Künstlerplakate aus der Werkstatt Mourlot - Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen
2012
Jean Cocteau, unique et multiple - Musée Fabre, Montpellier
Der Nackte Mann - Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, Linz
nackte männer von 1800 bis heute - Leopold Museum, Vienna
From Picasso to Koons. Artist’s Jewellery - Benaki Museum, Athens
Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Trasfiguration - MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY
2011
Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918–1936, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
2010
The Surreal Film House and Surreal Competition, Barbican Art Gallery, London, U.K
Jean Cocteau: sur les pas d'un magicien, Palais Lumière, Evian, France(solo)
2009
The Lovers by Jean Cocteau, Cocteau Museum, Menton, France(solo)
Jean Cocteau et la Méditerranée, Palais des Arts, Marseille, France(solo)
2008
Jean Cocteau: The Orphic Trilogy, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA(solo)
Picasso 1917-1937, l'Arlecchino del Arte, Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, Italy
Cocteau dessine l'Europe, Cosmopolis, Nantes, France
2007
Writer's Brush: Paintings and Drawings by Writers, Anita Shapolsky Gallery, New York, NY
Théâtre, cinéma, music-hall, ballet, Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, France
2006
Théâtre de la Mode, Museum of History and Industry, Seattle, WA
Picasso and the Theatre, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Framkfurt, Germany
La main du poète: The Hand of the Poet, Flers Castle Museum, Flers, France
2003
Jean Cocteau: Spanning the Century, Center Pompidou, Paris, France(solo)
Jean Cocteau: Enfant Terrible, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Quebec, Canada(solo)
2001
Jean Cocteau and Spain, Reina Sofia National Museum of Art, Madrid, Spain
Jean Cocteau: "Ils" Angels and Demons, Bunkamura Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; traveling to: Eki Museum, Kyoto, Japan
2000
Erotic works of Jean Cocteau, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA(solo)
Jean Cocteau, James Van Dammer Gallery, Brussels, Belgium(solo)
1994
Dance in Cocteau's Era, Serverin Wunderman Museum, Irvine, CA(solo)

Public Collections

Severin Wunderman Museum, Irvine, CA
Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, France
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
Jean Cocteau Museum, Menton, France
The Cartier Colletion, Paris, France
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

Literature

1990
Cocteau, Jean. Souvenir portraits: Paris in the Belle Epoque. New York: Paragon House
1989
Touzot, Jean. Jean Cocteau. Lyon: Manufacture
1984
Peters, Arthur King. Jean Cocteau and the French Scene. New York: Abbeville Press
1977
Evans, Arthur B. Jean Cocteau and his Films of Orphic Identity. Philadelphia: Art Alliance Press