Jean Fautrier (French, 1898–1964) is one of the major figures of Art Informel, also known as Tachisme (French for “stain-making”). Similar in style to American Abstract Expressionism, the movement started in the 1940s in Europe, and included artists such as Pierre Soulages, Nicolas de Staël, Jean Dubuffet, and Georges Mathieu. Born in Paris, Fautrier studied at the Royal Academy of Art, and at the Slade School in London. He returned to Paris in 1920, and began painting realistic portraits and nudes. During World War II, he was an active member of the Resistance. He created two series of portraits—oils on paper and paper collages—later entitled, Otages and Massacres, inspired by the atrocities he saw during the war. The morbid portraits depict the unknown victims of the Gestapo mass murders. In the late 1950s, Fautrier’s art became increasingly abstracted, but remained a testimony to the sufferings caused by World War II, evident in the Heads of Partisans series and his small, dark landscapes. In 1960, Fautrier received the Venice Biennale Prize. He died in Châtenay-Malabry, France in 1964.

Timeline

1898
Born
1917
Called up for the French Army, but because of his poor health he was soon transferred to the auxiliary corps
1922
Moved to Paris and started to produce engravings and etchings
1928
Met André Malraux, who asked him to illustrate a text of his choice. He settled on Dante's Inferno, producing 34 lithographs
1930
Produced a number of paintings in sombre tones of female models
1943
Arrested and briefly imprisoned by the Germans in January
1945
Bought an old château in the outskirts of Paris in which he remained until his death
1956
After the Soviet crackdown in Hungary, Fautrier painted a number of works entitled Head of Partisan in homage to the tragic courage of its victims
1964
Died

Exhibitions

2004–2005
Jean Fautrier, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, Switzerland (solo)
2002
Jean Fautrier - 1898-1964, Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee, WI, USA (solo)
2001
JEAN FAUTRIER - Akte - 36 Zeichnungen und eine Skulptur, Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1999
Jean Fautrier - 1898-1964 - Das graphische Werk, Galerie Orangerie-Reinz, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1998–1999
Jean Fautrier, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (solo)
1997
Jean Fautrier, Galerie 1900-2000, Paris, France (solo)
1990
Jean Fautrier, Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, Germany (solo)