Henri Cadiou

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Henri Cadiou (26 March 1906, Paris – 6 April 1989) was a French realist painter and lithographer known for his work in trompe-l'oeil paintings. He is credited with being a founder of the l’école de la réalité in 1949 (called nowadays Mouvement Trompe-l’oeil-réalité). He was also president of the Association for the Protection of the Cité Fleurie (the "Flowering City"), a wooded area around the boulevard Arago in Paris's 13th arrondissement where about thirty artist’s studios are located.

Because of renewed interest in precursors to contemporary hyperrealism, the group of painters associated with the “peintres de la réalité” are seeing a contemporary resurgence and have been exhibiting now for about fifty years in the Salons as well as in personal or collective shows as well as in Europe, Asia, North America (New York Cultural Center, Corcoran Gallery of Washington), Canada, Brazil, etc.


  • 1906 March 26. Birth of Henri Cadiou in Paris.
  • 1919 Lithographer pupil in the Estienne School which he had to leave after 6 months because of the death of his father.
  • 1920 Training in an engraver on leather. Initiates himself with the drawing of ornament in the evening school.
  • 1922 Work for a lithographer. Frequent visits to the Louvre.
  • 1924 Draws on living model during the evenings in the Froment school. Fall in love with Baudelaire.
  • 1925 Military service in the Dragons in Colmar. Is fascinated by Grünewald
  • 1927 Death of his mother. Finds itself with unemployment.
  • 1928 Is interested in the history, sociology, popular art. Work in advertising, decoration.
  • 1934 Is charmed by the exposure : Peintres de la Réalité in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.
  • 1935 Rent a workshop close to the rue Mouffetard. Creation of the REGAIN group very influenced by Jean Giono. Get married and moves to 65, boulevard Arago (Cité Fleurie). He shows at the Montmorency gallery (now Musée Hébert).
  • 1936 Birth of his first son Alain.
  • 1937 He shows landscapes of Brittany at the Charpentier gallery. Exposure of the "popular Masters of the Reality" organized by Andy-Farcy, conservative of the Grenoble museum with the assistance of Maximilien Gauthier.
  • 1938 Birth of his second son Gilles, who is a painter himself under the pseudonym of Pierre Gilou.
  • 1939 Is subjected with the enucleation of his left eye in October.
  • 1941 March 15. Starts a school of Graphic arts, in Paris which will be then recognized by the State.
  • 1943 First exposure: "Painting of Reality" by Cadiou with the Contemporary gallery. Preface of Rene Méjean. The same year he organizes with the Chardin Gallery the exposure "Five painters of Reality": Cadiou, Cottet, Jeannisson, Augustin and Philippe Rouart.
  • 1945 Birth of his daughter Anne-Marie.
  • 1946 Is in charge of the "Friends of art" and organizes debates. He paints “the child with the small flannel blanket” which marks the beginning of what was called his “miserabilist period”, inspired by the after war realistic cinema and which will last ten years.
  • May 1949 "Peintres de la Réalité" by Cadiou in the Carmine gallery.
  • 1950 Exposure in the Bradtke gallery (Luxembourg).
  • 1951 Exposure Belval gallery in Nevers. He is refused by the “Salon d’Automne”.
  • 1952 Joins the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in which he will expose until the end of his life.
  • 1955 Personal exposure in May in the Romanet gallery. Cofounder of the Salon "Comparaisons" of which he will be Vice President until 1989. Organizes with some friends sharing the same ideas on art, the International exhibition of the Painters of Reality in the Marforen gallery.
  • 1958 Second International exhibition of the Painters of Reality in Brussels.
  • 1959 Edition of a book dedicated to Cadiou by Maximilien Gauthier (Flammarion. Edition). Edition of the book Painters of Reality in the 20th century prefaced by Jean Giono.
  • 1960 Exposure in Madrid.
  • 1961 Beginning of the “Trompe l’oeil” period with “Spatial Transcendence” which is the parody of a Fontana work. Following a disagreement with the administration, he is fired from the direction of the graphic arts school that he had created and is disciplinarily transferred to Brittany as the manager of a Maritime and aquicultural School.
  • 1962 the group of the Painters of the Reality, which he created, exposes “trompe l’oeil”. To make known his ideas, he publishes a satirical review on art : "Art snob"
  • 1963 Exposure of “The shower”.
  • 1964 For the tenth birthday of “Comparaisons”, he presents “L’étagère de cuisine”. The Painters of reality group exposes a satire of the contemporary art which they baptize "socio-experimental research"
  • 1965 His “Panneau électoral” present in a humorous form a proclamation of the movement that he intends to promote.
  • 1966 Realization of “La femme invisible” and “La cabine d’essayage”.
  • 1967 Summer stays in Villeneuvette (south of France) where join the Painters of Reality and their friends in an industrious and friendly environment .
  • 1969 Paints the “Homage to Marcel Duchamp” who represents a “Trompe l’oeil”urinal
  • 1970 Beginning of the combat for the safeguard of the “Cité Fleurie”. His pictorial production during ten years will be considerably reduced.
  • 1972 Paints “La palisade” in which it cannot be prevented from letting show through its concerns for the safeguard of the Cité fleurie.
  • 1974 Paints the “Fleuriste du métro Glacière” which points out there still the attack of the “Cité fleurie” by the property developers.
  • 1981 Paints his most famous painting : “La déchirure”.
  • 1983 Exit of the book “Cadiou trompe l’oeil” published by Seth Eastman Moebs.
  • 1989 With Gilou, he carries out a teaching work: “Painting of trompe l’oeil” (Dessain and Tolra). April 6, he dies after having painted and written his newspaper like each day of his life.

See also[edit]