1915 - 2001
Jacques Germain was born in Paris in 1915. In 1931, on the advice of Blaise Cendrars, he became a pupil of Fernand Léger and Amédée Ozenfant at the Académie Moderne, Paris. He soon left for the Bauhaus in Dessau, where Jean Leppien remembered his arrival, and was taught by Kandinsky and Albers from 1931 to 1932. In 1932 and 1933 he studied advertisement and graphic design in Frankfurt at Willy Baumeister’s Kunstgewerbeschule (Commercial Art School). Conscripted in 1936, he served in the war and was a prisoner in Germany until 1943. Since 1944 he has divided his time between Paris and his family home in Tremblay-sur-Mauldre. In 1946 he met Antoine Artaud and worked with him.
Since painters usually go through a period of apprenticeship, and abstract painters begin as figurative painters, it is surprising, though perhaps the result of his early training at the Bauhaus, that Jacques Germain was an abstract painter from the start and early on had control of what was to be his final style. He was particularly successful in mastering loud or subdued chords of colour that resonated along oblique rhythms like notes in a cantata or a fugue by Bach. In an approach reminiscent of Monet’s water lilies period he used his immense technical resources, subtle colour sense and a sensual appreciation of intertwined paint textures applied with a knife to exteriorise, express and communicate all the movements of his spirit in the domain of non-figurative painting.
Since 1947 he has taken part in many collective exhibitions including: Salon des Surindépendants (1946 and 1947); Salon des Réalités Nouvelles (from 1949); Salon de Mai from (1951); Salon Comparaisons; Salons des Grands et Jeunes d’Aujourd’hui; Salon d’Automne; Salon du Blanc et Noir, Paris (1948) with Arp, Bryen, Fautrier, Hartung, Mathieu, Picabia, Seuphor, Ubac and Wols; Tendances, Galerie Maeght, Paris (1951); Lissone Prize, Milan (1953); Pittsburgh International, Carnegie Foundation (1955); Debré – Germain, Galerie Michel Warren, Paris (1957); Galerie Birch and Group, J. Massol Gallery, Copenhagen (1958); Galerie Friegel, Paris and Le Bauhaus, Musée de l’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris (1967); L’aventure de Pierre Loeb, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris (1977); International Art Expo, Leif Stähle Gallery, Stockholm and FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain), Paris (1981-1982-1983).
He also held solo exhibitions: Paris (1949); Frankfurt am Main (1951); Galerie Pierre (Loeb), Paris and Galerie Dupont, Lille (1953); Galerie Michel Warren, Paris (1954 and 1956); Lausanne (1957); Galerie Jacques Massol (1958 and 1959); Galerie Adren Maeght, Paris (1961); Galerie Kriegel, Paris (1961,1965 and 1969); Brussels (1974); Bad-Godesberg/Bonn (1976); Galerie Coard, Paris (1980 and 1984); Galerie Barbier-Belz, Paris (from 1985); retrospective, Couvent des Cordeliers, then exhibitions at the Arnoux and First Time galleries, Paris (1997); Paintings since the 1950s ( Peintures depuis les années 50) (2002).
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Lausanne (Cantonal MFA)
Paris (MNAM-CCI): Oslo
Robert, Marthe (preface): Jacques Germain, exhibition catalogue, Gal. des Deux Îles, Paris, 1949.
Estienne, Charles: ‘Tendances’ in Derrière le miroir, periodical, Gal. Maeght, Paris, 1951.
Courthion, Pierre (preface): Jacques Germain, exhibition catalogue, Gal. Michel Warren, Paris, 1954.
Weelen, Guy: Jacques Germain, exhibition catalogue, Lausanne, 1957.
Courthion, Pierre: Art indépendant, Albin Michel, Paris, 1958.
Vallier, Dora (preface): Jacques Germain, exhibition catalogue, Gal. Kriegel, Paris, 1961.
Grenier, Jean: Entretiens avec dix-sept Peintres non-figuratifs, Calmann-Lévy, Paris, 1963.
Robert, Marthe/Van Gindertael, Roger: Jacques Germain, exhibition catalogue, Gal. Jacques Barbier, Paris, 1985.
Persin, Patrick-Gilles: ‘Jacques Germain’ in Cimaise n° 191, periodical, Paris, 1987.
Jacques Germain, Éd. Jacques Barbier, Caroline Beltz, Paris, 1990.
Harambourg, Lydia: L’École de Paris 1945-1965. Dictionnaire des Peintres, Ides et Calendes, Neuchâtel, 1993.
Harambourg, Lydia: Jacques Germain, exhibition catalogue, Couvent des Cordeliers, Paris, 1997 (good documentation).