Jean Messagier

1920 — 1999

French sculptor, painter, poet. Messagier made his debut at the Salon des Moins de Trente Ans group exhibition in 1941 in Paris. Ever since he was a regular partaker in the Paris salons (1941-1953) and group exhibitions in Zurich, Florence, London and New York. In 1943, at the age of 23, Messagier held his first personal exhibition in the Montbéliard castle.

In his early years he was influenced by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, André Masson. In 1944 he married ceramic artist Marcelle Baumann who sparked his interest for sculpture. In 1947 he presented his first sculpture at the Autumn salon in Paris. 

Jean Messagier is one of the main representatives of the New (Second) School of Paris (La Nouvelle École de Paris). Art сritic Charles Etienne called him a Robinson Crusoe of the post-war movement. At this time Messagier  was moving from figurative art to pure abstraction and becoming a representative of informalism, art movement which focused on the interior landscape (paysage intérieur).

In the 1960s Messagier discovered an art movement which was later called nuagisme (based on «nuage», «cloud»). It evolved from experiments in monochromatic paintings and explored the circulation of light, colour and form in the picture. Brightly coloured shapes in the center of the painting resembled phantasmagoric clouds and soon became a recognizable touch of the artist. 

In 1962-1965 Messagier represented France at several biennale, including the Venice Biennale and the São Paulo Art Biennale in Brazil.

In the late 1960s the artist returned to abstract painting. Its layers became more and more transparent, and the strokes, the rhythm of movement became more visible. Abstract landscapes (paysagisme abstrait) – visualizations of the artists mood – became one of the direct forms of communication with the spectator. In the winter of 1969 Messagier researched the influence of natural environment (for instance, of air humidity) over the process of painting. He elaborated the le Gel technique, which made nature a true contributor to the creative process.