|Born||September 09, 1908
|Died||January 26, 1986
St. Denis-sur-Loire, France
|Known for||Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture|
|Notable work||The Wildcat Hunt (1948)
The Atomic Age (1949) The Massacres of Rambouillet (1957)
|Movement||Expressionism , Homme Temoin|
|Awards||Prix de la Critique, 1948
First Prize at the Venice Biennial, 1952
Life and work
Lorjou was born in Blois, in the Loire et Cher department of France. Born to an impoverished family just before World War I, Lorjou was to receive the bulk of his education, as he put it, “in the streets.” At the age of 13, with his desire to learn to paint, he leaves his home for Paris. There, Lorjou lives through early years of hardship and often finds himself sleeping in metro and train stations while working without pay as an errand boy for a printing house. He eventually finds a position as a silk designer where he meets his future wife Yvonne Mottet, also an artist and painter. Lorjou finds success as a silk designer. Over the next 30 years, his designs not only adorn the bodies of many of the world's most prominent women but also provide him an income that allow him to paint on a full-time basis.
Lorjou exhibits for the first time at the Salon des Indépendents in 1928. During travels through Spain in 1931, he is stricken by the expressive strong styles of the artists El Greco, Velasquez, and most of all Goya. Inspired by Goya, Lorjou begins painting socio-political events. In 1948, he shares the Critic’s Award with Bernard Buffet. In the same year, Lorjou forms the art group “l’Homme Temoin” with art critic Jean Bouret by declaring that "man is an eater of red meat, fried potatoes, fruit and cheese". The group bands together in an effort to defend figurative painting against the abstract movement and will eventually attract other painters such as Bernard Buffet, Jean Couty, André Minaux, Charazac, and Simone Dat.
Over the next 30 years Lorjou’s reputation as a painter becomes more established. His work and style go through a series of transformations, the only constants being the power of his images and the rich precision of his use of vibrant color. Lorjou is supported by prominent art figures like Georges Wildenstein and Domenica Walter, the widow of Paul Guillaume. Lorjou becomes known for his extravagant exhibits and combative spirit. His works are exhibited widely throughout the world, namely in France, the United States, and in Japan.
On January 26, 1986, at the age of 77, Lorjou dies from an acute asthma attack at his home in St. Denis sur Loire.
Lorjou’s body of work includes thousands of paintings, a collection wood engravings, ceramic and bronze sculptures, lithographs, illustrated books, socially oriented posters, stained glass windows, and murals.
Theme Exhibitions (Selection)
- Un Regard de Lumière, Lorjou, a 1983 film by Olivier Girard
- Osborne, Harold, editor. The Oxford C ompanion to Twentieth-Century Art. Oxford University Press. 1988
- Bernard Lorjou on the-artists.org
- Gerard, Georges. Lorjou, le peintre du siecle (Collection Les Temoins de l'histoire). France: Publisud, 1989.
- Crespelle, J.P. “LORJOU, Dernier Grand de la Butte.” Montmartre Vivant. Ed. Hachette. France: Hachette, 1964. 249-273.