Jean-René Bazaine 1904 - 2001
Jean-René Bazaine was born in Paris in 1904 and was raised there, surrounded by the evolution of the avant-garde. While completing a literature degree, he also studied under a sculptor, Paul Landowsksi, at the School of Fine-Arts in Paris. By 1930, Bazaine was beginning to show his work in group exhibitions. Bazaine’s first personal exhibition was organised in 1932; he was encouraged by artist Pierre Bonnard, who was extremely supportive throughout his career.
In 1936, Bazaine escaped the grips of urban life and went to Saint-Guénole. This was an inspiring and enlightening moment for the artist. The sea and the light from the north were revelatory in his perspective and fuelled his artistic vision. In the same year, he befriended Jacques Villon, the brother of pioneering artist, Marcel Duchamp. Over the next couple of years, while connecting with other artists, Bazaine was involved in many significant exhibitions in Paris.
In 1941, Bazaine organised an exhibition that marked the history of painting at the School of Paris named, "Twenty young artists from French tradition". This event acted as a resistance against the German attitude towards modern or “degenerate art”. Until the end of the war, Bazaine continued to exhibit and work alongside other artists despite the risks. Bazaine also participated in major international events such as the Venice Biennale, Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh and the San Paolo Biennale.
'One must situate oneself at the intersection of all sensations, of all sentiments: there the secret of the universe lies. This is why I refuse pure abstraction.'
However, Bazaine’s first truly important personal exhibition was held in Paris in 1949. Bazaine showed his paintings created between 1944 and 1949. His work from this time is lyrical and sensitive, using a wide range of colours to create great richness. After his first exhibition's success, in 1959, he was awarded his first major retrospective by Kunsthalle of Bern, Stedelijk Museum of Eindhoven and by the Museum of Amsterdam.
In his work, Bazaine explored many varied techniques. He experimented with gouache and watercolours, then focused on engraving and lithography. Bazaine also worked on large scale pieces such as tapestries, mosaics and stained glass, which were commissioned in churches all over France. He also created sets for theatres and collaborated illustrating books with friends such as André Frénaud, Raymond Queneau, Jean Tardieu and Éluard. In his career, Bazaine remained a man of culture and whilst creating his own art, he reflected on the works of others and the stories of other artists. His “Notes on the painting of today” is a classic study in painting and until the end of his life in 2001, and beyond, was largely reproduced and republished. In it he wrote; "One must situate oneself at the intersection of all sensations, of all sentiments: there the secret of the universe lies. This is why I refuse pure abstraction."
You can view Bazaine's work at the modern art museum at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.