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André Bauchant (French, 1873–1958)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

French painter. Like many naive artists, he discovered his vocation for drawing and painting late in life. His work as a gardener in Touraine awakened his love of nature, and he educated himself by reading history and mythology and by travelling in central and western France. He was mobilized in World War I and was sent to Greece to take part in the Dardanelles campaign; on his return to France his drawing skills were recognized by the Army and he was put in charge of charting and rangefinding. It was this experience that encouraged him to become a painter in 1919.

Bauchant exhibited his work for the first time at the Salon d’Automne in 1921. His flower pictures were soon succeeded by subjects from history, such as Louis XI Having Mulberry Bushes Planted near Tours (1943; Paris, Pompidou), from mythology, as in Cleopatra, on her Way to Anthony (1939; New York, MOMA), and even from current events, as in the Celebration of the Liberation (1945; Paris, Pompidou). Bauchant’s first great supporter and collector was Le Corbusier, who with Ozenfant co-authored the first study devoted to him (1922). In 1927 he was commissioned by Diaghilev to design the sets and costumes for the ballet Apollon musagète, with music by Stravinsky, which was performed in Monte Carlo. The Paris dealer Jeanne Bucher began to buy his work in quantity.

After 1927 Bauchant gradually abandoned large compositions on subjects drawn from mythology and history and instead favoured pictures of flowers, fruit and especially landscapes (often incorporating figures) in which his sensitivity to nature was modified by an imagination fed by literary sources including the Bible and by Homer and other heroic myths. Bauchant’s treatment of figures, frozen in attitudes indicating a certain awkwardness and as if enshrined in foliage, manifest a poetic and mysterious quality sometimes reminiscent of medieval paintings. This association was further emphasized by his use of unglazed colours in the manner of quattrocento frescoes and by a colour sense similar to that of Giotto. Bauchant’s reputation was enhanced by his involvement in the exhibition Maîtres populaires de la réalité, organized in Paris in 1937 by the Musée de Grenoble, and by retrospectives of his work at the Galerie Charpentier (1949) and at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Tours (1960). Although his pictures were uneven in quality, he was exceptional among naive painters in his productivity.

Nadine Pouillon
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press


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