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Maurice Brianchon


Marguerite Louppe and Maurice Brianchon: Mirrors of Midcentury French Culture, Walsh Gallery, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey


Painter's Lives: Marguerite Louppe and Maurice Brianchon, Williams Center Gallery, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania


Les Huit de la Réalité Poétique, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Gaillac


Maurice Brianchon, Galerie Browse & Darby, London


Brianchon, Galerie Artfrance, Paris

Hommage à la Réalité Poétique, Galerie De Bartha - De Senarclens, Genève


Maurice Brianchon, David Findlay, New York

Les Magiciens de la scène - Opéra de Paris 1917–1954, Musée Yves Brayer, Les Baux-de-Provence


Maurice Brianchon, Galerie d'Art contemporain, Menton


Maurice Brianchon, Musée de Tessé, Collégiale St-Pierre-La-Cour, Le Mans

Les Peintres de la Réalité Poétique, Galerie Les Salles du Palais, Genève


Artistes suisses et français des XIXe et XXe siècles, Galerie du Chêne, Lausanne


Albert-André: Portrait d'un conservateur, Musée Albert-André, Bagnols-sur-Cèze


La Réalité Poétique, Musée de l'Athénée, Genève


Maurice Brianchon, Galerie 26, Paris

Les Peintres de la Réalité Poétique, Palais des Expositions, Genève


Fondation de l'Hermitage, Salon du Livre, Genève

Maîtres suisses et français des XIXe et XXe siècles, Galerie Paul Vallotton, Lausanne


Maurice Brianchon, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne

For a complete, historic exhibition history, visit the official website for Maurice Brianchon here.

Maurice Brianchon was born in 1899 in Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, near Le Mans. The family moved to Paris in 1917, and the following year he enrolled in l’École des Arts Décoratifs where he studied under Eugene Morand, the playwright and painter, who would be a supporter and mentor to Brianchon through his early career. Several of Bianchon’s fellow students would also become lifelong colleagues and friends: Roland Oudot, Raymond Legueult, and Francois Desnoyer. Brianchon won the Prix Blumenthal in 1924 and travelled throughout Spain on a grant from the l’École des Arts Décoratifs that year with Legueult, becoming fascinated with the paintings of Velasquez and El Greco. The following year the two young painters designed the sets for the Massenet opera Grisélidis, the libretto written by Eugene Morand, their former professor. They again worked together in 1925 on a short opera La Naissance de la Lyre, with music by Albert Roussel, for L’Opéra de Paris. Though he first exhibited paintings at the Salon des Tuileries in 1923, it was not until 1927 that Brianchon had his first major solo exhibition at the Galerie le Portique. 


Brianchon met Marguerite Louppe in the early 1930s and in 1934 they married. That same year, Brianchon achieved national recognition by representing France in the Venice Biennale; six of his canvases shared the French Pavilion with works by Manet.

Brianchon had begun his teaching career in 1930 at École de Couture, but in 1936 he returned to his alma mater, l’École des Arts Décoratifs. In 1949 he became a professor at École des Beaux-Arts. Over his long pedagogical career there, spanning three decades, he would teach and influence a generation of notable French artists, including Guy Bardone, André Brasilier, Bernard Cathelin, René Genis, and Paul Guiramand. In 1936, he received his first major institutional commission, painting a pair of murals for the entry hall of the theater the Palais de Chaillot at the Trocadéro. From that point until the late 1950s, Brianchon designed sets and costumes for performances of all kinds: the ballet Sylvia by Léo Delibes in 1939; Valses Nobles et Sentimentales by Ravel; and Les Animaux Modèles by Francis Poulenc the following year. In 1939 Brianchon also garnered attention in the United States, receiving the Carnegie Institute’s Garden Club Prize. Poulenc and Brianchon became close friends and continued to work together on projects throughout the 1950s.


After the Second World War, the painter forged the other great artistic association for which he is remembered: in 1946 Madeleine Renaud and Jean-Louis Barrault asked him to design sets and costumes for Marivaux’s Fausses Confidences. It was a partnership that would continue for a decade. That same year saw another arrival of sorts; the painter had been illustrating books for the printing house Ides et Calendes since the previous year, but in 1946 he illustrated the complete works of André Gide. He would continue to illustrate and create lithographic editions to accompany works of literature and poetry until 1970, culminating with a set of prints for Colette’s Le Blé en Herbe, and several editions with the famed Mourlot Press.


The first president of the Fourth Republic, Vincent Auriol, was an admirer of Brianchon and his work. He commissioned him to design official menus and invitations for the Office of the President, as well as a portrait of Mrs. Auriol. The president made Brianchon an Officer of the French Legion of Honor in 1953 and that same year sent him as the official artist representative of the French nation to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1951, Brianchon had two exhibitions: at the Wildenstein Gallery in London, and, significantly, at the Musée des Art Décoratifs at the Louvre. This retrospective, organized by Louppe, featured 135 paintings, as well as watercolors, drawings, lithographs, and tapestries. The exhibition received both critical and popular acclaim.


In 1956, he travelled to Rome with Hans Arp, Ossip Zadkine, and Jacques Villon to serve on the jury for the Prix del la VII Quadrienale National d’arte di Roma. A few years later, in 1959, Brianchon sailed to New York for the first time to attend the opening of his first of many exhibitions at the David B. Findlay Gallery.


As an antidote to their urban existence, the Brianchons purchased a rustic country estate in Périgord in the late 1950s: the rambling buildings, pastoral vistas, and light-filled studios of Truffières became a frequent subject of the paintings of both Brianchon and Louppe. 


A second retrospective of Brianchon's work was presented at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Neuchatel in 1962. Not particularly to the artist’s liking was the fact that he was increasingly being considered part of an artificially constructed artistic movement called La Réalité Poetique, which featured such artists as Caillard, Cavailles, Legueult, Limouse, Oudot, Planson, and Terechkovitch. Brianchon spent his career trying to avoid particular inclusions to movements or subgroups. He considered this exercise restrictive and did not accurately reflect his commitment to a multidisciplinary approach to art.


Brianchon died in Paris in 1979. As per his wishes, no major exhibitions of his work were mounted until ten years after his death. This epilogue of quiet after the artist’s extraordinarily productive life is an indication of the modesty with which he viewed his career and artistic output.

—William Corwin and David Hirsh


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