Thursday, February 26, 2015

Marcel Gromaire

La guerre (War)
oil on canvas
127.6 x 97.8 cm
Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France

"To the deformation, I oppose the assertion of the object." - Marcel Gromaire

Marcel Gromaire (1892-1971) was a French Expressionist painter, graphic artist, and designer born in Noyelles-sur-Sambre, whose father was an educator in Paris. He painted many works on social subjects, and is often associated with Social Realism. His art is not nearly as well known as his contemporaries, but his artistic talent is undeniable, and his compositions are still highly valued at auction today.

He originally studied law in Paris, and even received his diploma, but he is essentially drawn to art. He quickly abandoned his judiciary career path. He had no formal training, but from 1910 he frequented artists' studios in Paris, being influenced by such painters as Matisse, Cezanne, and later by Fernand Leger. Before the outbreak of the First World War he visited the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and England; he was impressed by contemporary Expressionism and also by the naturalism of the Old Masters of the Low Countries.

In 1912, he performed his military service in Lille when the war began and spent the next six years in the army and was wounded in 1916 in the Battle of the Somme. While serving in the war, he continued to draw and sketch while traveling and fighting all over Europe. Not surprisingly, the war was also an influence on his work and is echoed in a number of his compositions. During his time in the war, he gathered the basic impressions which would determine his later artistic career. He returned to Paris in 1919 and worked as a film critic at first. His work was finally recognized in his exhibition of 1933 in the De Bale art gallery. In 1937, he carried out the decoration of the pavilion of the porcelain manufacturer Severes at the World Exhibition in Paris. From 1933 to 1944, he was part of the renewal of the tapestry movement and therefore belongs to the definitive pioneers of a new Gobelin tradition. He went to the United States in 1950 and received the renowned Carnegie Prize in 1952.
After much sickness, he died in Paris. He depicted a variety of subjects (although his main interest was in portraying the life of the people) and he did some of his best work as a decorative artist.