Maurice Brianchon

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Biography of Maurice Brianchon ( 1899-1979 )

Celebrated by Gisèle d'Assailly as a "painter of poetic reality", Maurice Brianchon, a figurative artist rooted in the 20th century, chose to express himself through colour, with a free touch. Constantly questioning his sensitivity, he manages to detach himself from the tendencies and trends of his time, in order to liberate the emotions that animate him. His work is described in these terms by Jean-Louis Barrault: "Brianchon's painting is the reality that dreams". Indeed, his pictorial style is certainly influenced by the people he frequents, but the painter always chooses to keep his singularity. 

Maurice Brianchon was born in 1899, in the town of Fresnay-sur-Sarthe. Very early on, he showed many plastic predispositions. As a result, he was accepted in 1917 at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris and joined the studio of Fernand Cormon, renowned for his history painting. A year later, he moved to the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. There he followed the education of Paul Renouard - a painter and engraver renowned for his portraits and figures of dancers - and that of Eugène Edouard Morand, a teacher since 1908. In this context, he frequented artists such as Joseph Inguimberty, or Roland Oudot, painter and lithographer, producing engravings, murals, theatre sets and book illustrations. He became friends with Raymond Legueult. He also met François Desnoyer, a figurative painter of the early 20th century, whose artistic production tended towards Fauvism and Cubism, and Jacques Adnet, a furniture designer known for his contribution to French modernism. 

In 1919, his work was presented for the first time at the Salon d'Automne - an art exhibition held annually since 1903 - providing opportunities for young artists. During a trip to Belgium and the Netherlands, while surveying the cities of Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges and Amsterdam, the artist discovered the great figures of Dutch and Flemish painting. Having completed his training in Decorative Arts, he became a member of the committee of the Salon d'Automne in 1922. Brianchon then settles in a Parisian studio, which he shares with his friend Raymond Legueult. With him, he created the costumes for Grisélidis, at the Paris Opera, as well as the sets for the ballet La Naissance de la lyre, in 1925. The same year, he was appointed professor at the École Estienne in Paris, then at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris in 1936. His artistic production was honoured by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, a scientific research foundation founded in 1902,: he received the Garden Club Prize. 

In this context, his work is gaining increasing renown. However, when the Second World War broke out, Brianchon, like many of his confreres, was mobilized. He is devoted to the camouflage section of the French army. His courage and actions were then rewarded by the insignia of the Legion of Honour, a ribbon consecrating his talent and actions during the occupation.

Subsequently, in 1949, the artist was nominated professor at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His work was noticed by the President of the Republic, Vincent Auriol, a fervent admirer of the artist, who regularly invited him to the private and official receptions he gave at the Élysée Palace. These events provide inspiration for a number of subjects, which Brianchon does not hesitate to translate on his canvases. During these events, he multiplies preparatory sketches, intended to produce finished paintings. The President of the Republic chose to reward Brianchon's work at the Paris Opera, notably the design of the sets and costumes for the Aubade ballet in 1952. He was awarded the insignia of Officer of the Legion of Honour.

His work, gaining international fame, attracts the United Kingdom. In this context, he was appointed by the Directorate of Arts and Letters to take part in the ceremonies of the coronation of Elizabeth II, to which he dedicated 8 paintings. A few years later, accompanied by his wife, Maurice Brianchon set off to explore the streets of New York in search of new sponsors. It is in the gallery David B. Findlay, that he chose to deposit thirty paintings, on the occasion of an exclusive exhibition. Deeply marked by the aesthetics of this oversized city, he endeavours to retranscribe these immense skyscrapers in his productions. Upon his return to France, Maurice Brianchon became a member of the Société des Peintres Graveurs Français. 

After New York, the painter chose to exhibit in Japan in 1969. Indeed, a Japanese gallery owner, Chozo Yoshii, chose to present about twenty of his paintings. A monograph in Japanese dedicated to him was published in Tokyo in 1972. While he occupies a manifest presence in the Japanese artistic sphere, Brianchon's work continues to seduce in the United States, although a fifth exhibition represents his work. The artist exhibited regularly all over the world until his death in 1979.

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