Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (French, July 5, 1889–October 11, 1963) was among the best 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, he 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 well-known promoter of unconventional fashion and styles. He was connected to well-known artists as well, including the writer Marcel Proust (French, 1871–1922), Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), the composer Eric Satie (French 1866–1925), and the director Serge Diaghilev (Russian, 1872–1929).

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 in the end. During the First World War, specifically in 1923, he was an ambulance chauffeur on the Belgian facade, 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 is 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 showing a rich element of surreal imagery and symbolism. 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 (French, 1892–1974) and Erik Satie-Le Boeuf sur le toit (1920), as well as librettos for Milhaud and Igor Stravinsky (Russian, 1882–1971). As an artist, he published several books with vivid illustrations, and worked as a designer.


Born: Yvelines, France
Attended the Lycée Condorcet in Paris, France, however, left school shortly afterwards to pursue a writing career
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
Initiated the magazine "Le Coq", together with Raymond Radiguet
Published hiis most famous novel, Les Enfants Terribles(Children of the Game)
Made the first film, Le Sang d'un poète
Was awarded a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour
Won the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival
Became a member of the Académie française and The Royal Academy of Belgium
Died: Milly-la-Forêt, France


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
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
Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918–1936, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
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)
The Lovers by Jean Cocteau, Cocteau Museum, Menton, France(solo)
Jean Cocteau et la Méditerranée, Palais des Arts, Marseille, France(solo)
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
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
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
Jean Cocteau: Spanning the Century, Center Pompidou, Paris, France(solo)
Jean Cocteau: Enfant Terrible, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Quebec, Canada(solo)
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
Erotic works of Jean Cocteau, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA(solo)
Jean Cocteau, James Van Dammer Gallery, Brussels, Belgium(solo)
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


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