b. 1920, Bordeaux, France
d. 2014, Paris, France
Jean-Michel Coulon was born in Bordeaux in 1920, and at a very early age showed an innate talent for drawing. As a teenager, his encounter with Picasso was decisive. In 1944, his younger brother, a member of the French Resistance, was shot by the Gestapo at age 19. Coulon then decided to devote his life to painting.
In 1949 he was invited to participate in a group exhibition at the Jeanne Bucher Gallery with Braque, Picasso, Klee, Lanskoy, de Staël, Vieira da Silva, Kandinsky, and from the age of 28, he began to show his work regularly at art fairs, especially at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. In 1950, Rothko, Soulages, Vieillard, Deyrolle, visited his solo exhibition at the Jeanne Bucher Gallery. The same year, Coulon participated in an exhibition in New York at the Sidney Janis Gallery where fifteen French and fifteen American painters (including Ernst, de Kooning, Pollock, and Tobey) were hung side by side for the first time. In 1952, he participated in a group show at MoMA in New York.
Coulon’s focus on the smallest details, his multiple layers of colors in various thicknesses, and the controlled dimensions of his works suggest a source of inspiration stemming from the great Dutch masters and miniaturists.
In the early 1970’s, Coulon moved to Brussels where he lived for 30 years. While there, he exhibited at Vokaer’s Galerie Régence, which also supports Alechinsky, Bram van Velde, Folon, Ubac, Vieira da Silva. This period is characterized by very small format paintings with bright and cheerful colors. Some series are striated with a file, revealing the wooden structure.
At the beginning of 2000, the family moved back to Paris, where his work evolved from painting to collages. At 80 years old, he began reworking old canvases from the 1950’s and 1960’s, especially some large formats, with pieces of paper painted with gouache, strips of newspaper. Coulon died in Paris at the age of 94.