Jean Deyrolle was one of the most celebrated abstract painters in post-war Paris. As part of an influential group of artists associated with the pioneering Galerie Denise René, that included Poliakoff, Hartung, Dewasne and Schneider. Deyrolle was active as well in another avant-garde group founded by César Domela at the Centre de Recherche which was also very influential in the development of abstract art.
After studying at the École de Paris in 1928, the critic Charles Estienne introduced Deyrolle to the writings of Paul Sérusier, which had a profound influence on him, and hence his early work shows a clear Nabis influence. After the Liberation Deyrolle returned to Paris where in the company of de Stael, Magnelli, and Lanskoy he began to experiment with abstraction. He exhibited his first abstract works at the Salon d’Automne de la Liberation in 1944, and was championed by the dealer Jeanne Bucher and the critic Wilhelm Uhde, who would also become one of his most important patrons. At this time he also began exhibiting at the avant-garde Salon de Mai and the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. In 1946 he joined the aforementioned Galerie Denise René, where he held his first one-man show of abstract work in 1948, and subsequently 1951, 1953 and a major retrospective in 1966. He also held notable one-man shows at Galerie La Boétie in 1951, 1953, 1954.
Choosing to paint in tempera, an ancient medium made from eggs that creates a delicate matte surface, Deyrolle exploited this characteristic to brilliant effect to emphasise the elaborate interchange of positive and negative forms that co-exist in absolute equilibrium within his compositions. He participated in numerous major shows including: 1948, Tendences de l’Art Abstrait, Galerie Denise René, Paris; 1949, From Figuratism to Abstraction, Sao Paulo; 1949, Abstract Painting, Betty Parson Gallery, New York; 1951, French Contemporary Art, Tokyo; 1952, Young Painters of the École de Paris, London; 1st International Art Exhibition, Metropolitan Museum Tokyo; 1953, travelling exhibition Washington, Chicago, San Francisco; 1954, Younger European Painters, Guggenheim Museum, New York; 1955, travelling exhibition, Milan, Lisbon, Rome, Turin; 1957, Sao-Paulo Biennale; Milan Triennale; The New School of Paris, Bridgestone Gallery, Tokyo; 1960, Venice Biennale; 1961, Sao-Paulo Biennale; Tokyo Biennale; 1963, L’Art Contemporain, Grand Palais, Paris.
During his career Deyrolle received several major awards including the prestigious Prix Kandinsky. Before his death in 1967 Deyrolle’s final accomplishment, despite his deteriorating health, was to complete a book project in collaboration with Samuel Beckett titled Séjour, (published in 1969). Many retrospectives have since celebrated Deyrolle’s remarkable career, including at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, in 1975.
The artist is represented in numerous major modern art museums including Musée d’Art Moderne de Ville de Paris; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris; Brest; Grenoble; Nantes; Liége; Rennes; Brussels; Budapest; Copenhagen; Oslo; Turin; Sao Paolo; Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York.