Jean-Yves Commère started to learn sculpture while still a child in Angers; he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1938, where he studied under Jean Boucher and worked with Landowski and Niclausse. By 1942, he had abandoned sculpture in favour of painting.
Commère's early work chiefly comprised patterns of lines etched nervously into the underlying canvas to provide a sense of transparency that reinforced a decidedly light colour palette. Subsequently, he worked with more densely-applied paint; this imparted a new robustness to his work. He also worked as an illustrator, producing lithographs for several literary works. Examples of Commère's work featured at numerous group exhibitions in both France and abroad, notably in Paris at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants, the Salon d'Automne, the Salon des Peintres Témoins de Leur Temps (where he was awarded the 1963 Grand Prix), the Salon de Mai, the Salon Comparaisons and the Salon des Tuileries. He exhibited solo for the first time in Paris, at the Monique de Groote gallery in 1951 and thereafter in the same gallery in 1953, 1955 and 1957. Solo exhibitions followed in London and Geneva, then came a retrospective in 1971 at the Philippe Reichenbach Gallery in New York. Other solo exhibitions included Commère Through the Years at the Galerie Guigné in Paris in 1985.
Commère was awarded the Othon Friesz prize in 1952, an out-of-competition Prix de la Jeune Peinture in 1953, and the Francis Smith Grand Prix in 1973. He was elevated to the status of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in 1958 and invited to the Venice Biennale that same year. He was promoted to the rank of Officier des Arts et Lettres in 1979. Following his death in October 1986, a Homage to Jean Commère exhibition was held in 1987 at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris, followed by a November 1987 retrospective Jean-Yves Commère: Forty Years of Painting ( ean-Yves Commère: 40 ans de peinture) held at the Centre Culturel Paul Gauguin in Pont-Aven and at the Salon d'Automne in Paris.