Prière Bolcheviki, 1920
Gouache on paper
24 x 18.5 in.
b. 1878, Fribourg, Switzerland
d. 1958, Paris, France
Jean Crotti was a Swiss-born painter who worked primarily in Paris and New York. He was married to Suzanne Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp's sister, and friends with notable avant-garde and Dada painters of the period. Crotti was born in 1878 in Switzerland, the son of a painting contractor. Beginning his studies at Munich’s School of Decorative Arts, Crotti moved to Paris and enrolled in the prestigious Académie Julian in 1901, studying under Tony-Robert Fleury and Jules Lefebvre. Soon abandoning academic art training, from 1907–1909, Crotti began to exhibit regularly in large public exhibitions, such as the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne. From 1910 to 1912, he was influenced by Cubism and Orphism, bringing him into contact with artists in the Section d’Or, including Francis Picabia, Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, and his future brothers-in-law Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Jacques Villon.
To escape from wartime Paris in 1914, Crotti moved to the United States with his first wife Yvonne Chastel. In New York City, Crotti shared a studio with Marcel Duchamp and met his sister Suzanne, who was an artist in her own right and major figure of the Dada movement. Crotti began his Dada period and was included in an exhibition of French paintings at the Montross Gallery in New York, with Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, and Jean Metzinger. In 1919, Crotti divorced Chastel and married Suzanne Duchamp.
Crotti’s mechanomorphic work on glass became one of Dada’s trademarks, and inspired Marcel Duchamp’s “Large Glass”. Along with Picabia, Duchamp, and Gleizes, Crotti held many exhibitions in America, and in Europe. After returning to France, in 1920 Crotti founded “Tabu-Dada,” which sought a projection of the sub-conscious and would later be an important source of inspiration for the Surrealists. Crotti is also known for creating the "Gemmail" technique of layering colored glass that produced unique color combinations when illuminated.
Jean Crotti died in 1958 in Paris, France. The artist is represented in many museums including: Musée National d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre G.Pompidou; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London.