b. 1892, Bruyeres, France
d. 1966, Saint-Paul de Vence, France
Jean Lurçat was a French artist and weaver credited with reviving contemporary tapestry. He studied at the Académie Colarossi and became enmeshed in the Paris art world in his early twenties, meeting Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. In 1915, he participated in his first exhibition in Zürich, and in 1917 he created his first major tapestry work. The Cubist and avant-garde influence is evident in Lurçat’s early works.
In 1925, Lurçat began exhibiting regularly at the gallery of Jeanne Bucher in Paris, alongside artists such as Hans Arp, Georges Braque, Max Ernst, Jacques Lipchitz, and Pablo Picasso. Bucher gave him three solo exhibitions between 1930 and 1936, and during these years his international reputation grew, with solo exhibitions at the Flechtheim Gallery in Berlin (1931) and the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York (1933). In 1932, Lurçat traveled to the United States; in Philadelphia, Albert Barnes bought two of his paintings, and in New York, he participated in an exhibition at the Valentine Gallery alongside Braque, André Derain, Matisse, and Picasso.
Lurçat’s layered materials convey the artist’s interest in texture and tactility, alluding to his transition from painting to tapestry. Although his first tapestries were executed and exhibited in 1917, it was not until 1936 that Lurçat turned from primarily painting to designing tapestries. In 1939, he and the painters Toussaint Dubreuil and Marcel Gromaire went to Aubusson, a French town historically associated with tapestry weaving since the sixteenth century, and established a center to make modern tapestries in collaboration with the master weaver François Tabard. Lurçat’s works often features such recurring motifs as nature, animals, and the cosmos. His tapestries, paintings, and works on paper bear witness to the multiplicity of his inspiration, and the strongly poetic nature of his oeuvre across media.