galerie frank elbaz

Jean-Michel Atlan

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Jean-Michel Atlan (born in 1913 in Constantine, French-Algeria, died in 1960 in Paris, France) was a self-taught artist associated with the avant-garde movement CoBrA. Born in French-Algeria, Atlan studied Philosophy at the Sorbonne. He subsequently became a teacher, but lost his license during World War II because of being Jewish. He then started to paint. In 1942, he was arrested for his involvement with the Resistance, but evaded the death camps by pleading insanity. While confined to the Saint-Anne asylum, Atlan wrote a volume of poetry entitled Le Sang profond or The Deep Blood, which he published upon his release. In 1945, he met Gertrude Stein, whom acquired 6 of his paintings and planned to publish a book on his work. Showing her acquisitions in London and New York, she introduced his arts to her friends. 

In 1956, Atlan’s style sharpened moving towards strong, black, sinuous lines surrounding pastel-colored areas which evoke organic associations that seem to portray struggle or dance. That same year, he achieved his breakthrough signing the exhibition poster for the show Nouvelle École de Paris at the Galerie Charpentier and a solo exhibition at the Galerie Bing in Paris. During the 1950s Atlan received a lot of attention in France, Japan, England and the US, and was considered one of the most important exponents of the Nouvelle École de Paris.
Atlan died in his Paris studio on February 12th 1960. His last paintings were shown in March of that year at the Contemporaries Gallery in New York, with a catalogue text by Clara Malraux. Only three years after his passing, the Musée National d’Art Moderne honored him with a retrospective exhibition presenting 193 works.

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