Jean
Chauvin
(1889-1976)
Artist

Chauvin is a highly acclaimed French sculptor celebrated for the simple purity of his abstract forms, of which this work is  a wonderful example. Born in Rochefort-sur-Mer, Chauvin moved to Paris in 1908 to study sculpture in the studio of the esteemed Antonin Mercie (1845–1916), President of the Société des Artistes Français. He also worked as an apprentice to Joseph Bernard (1866–1931) until 1914. In 1913 he first exhibited at the Salon d’Automne. Chauvin was particularly concerned with the surface of his material, favouring specific stones and exotic woods. Having started off much influenced by his master’s Neo-Classicism, he soon embraced Cubism and, after 1919, he became an early proponent of Abstraction.  In 1920 he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendents; and in 1928 he had his first solo show at the Galerie au Sacre du Printemps in Paris. In 1936 the distinguished art dealer Jeanne Bucher arranged the first of several solo exhibitions for Chauvin at her gallery, which lead to the commissioning of several pieces for the Paris International Exhibition in 1937.

 

After 1942 Chauvin’s sculpture became more lyrical, almost Surrealist in mood if not in content.  It simultaneously became increasingly geometric, displaying a greater concern with symmetry, or ‘twin-hood,’ symbolising conceptions of double reflection. This pre-occupation is clearly the inspiration for the present work, created circa 1945, and recurs in various themes of his work at his time, such as ‘Chrysalis’ referring to the symmetry in living organisms; ‘Lover’s Sleep’ coupling; ‘Meditation’ self-reflection. In 1946 and 1947, he participated in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles which had become the showcase for the leading avant-garde in post-war Paris. In 1949 he held the first of several exhibitions at Galerie Maeght which heralded a turning-point in the critical appreciation of his oeuvre.

 

He went on to exhibit with important shows at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and at the Kunsthaus, Zurich (1954). In 1962 Chauvin was selected to represent France at the Venice Biennale.  During the 60’s and 70’s he exhibited regularly, including at Galerie Villand, Galerie Galanis, Galerie Vallois and Galerie Artcurial.  In 1992 a major retrospective of his sculpture was held at the Fondation de Coubertin in St-Remy-les-Chevreuses, Ile-de-France.

 

A selection of his work can be found in the permanent collection of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.