Van Gogh •
|Birth Year :
|Death Year :
Georges Rouault was born in Paris, the son of a cabinetmaker. He was sent to an austere Protestant school from which he escaped to the warmer atmosphere
of the studio of a restorer of medieval stained-glass windows. Rouault was apprenticed to the restorer in found in such institutions as the Museum of Natural History in New York, Harlem Hospital in Los Angeles, The City College of New York, and Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn. His work encompasses many styles, from pure abstraction to almost pure realism. In the latter form, we may note the influence of African sculpture. His work is always strong and highly individualistic; warm with rich color, sharp in blacks and clear whites, or soft and compassionate in texture and color. It is, in fact, so varied 1885, and went to the School of Decorative Arts at night until 1891, when he became a pupil of Gustave Moreau. Moreau's use of decorative color and the ironwork of the windows were to influence Rouault's style throughout his career, whether he worked in pastels, watercolors, oils, or graphic mediums. Counterpointing rich color against heavy black line and illusion against reality, he expressed a compassion for mankind and a desire for spiritual renewal
through religious faith. Rouault embraced Catholicism in 1895, and for some years his life and work were influenced by his friendships with Huysmans and with Leon Bloy, a writer of spiritual but bitterly ironic tendencies. His subjects often painted in series were both religious and temporal: biblical subjects, acrobats, clowns, judges, landscapes. His sympathies were for the poor and downtrodden, and he commented that his imagination was stimulated by "the contrast between brilliant, scintillating things intended to amuse and this infinitely sad life." Rouault began his work as an engraver in 1917, illustrating many books and reaching his greatest heights in Miserere and War, upon which he worked from 1927 until 1947. In 1947, Rouault also regained a great many of his earlier paintings from the heirs of his dealer, Vollard. He destroyed 315 of them that he considered imperfect and devoted the last ten years of his life to working on others in an effort to achieve the standard of perfection he had set for himself. Rouault remained constantly aloof from the great art movements of his lifetime-Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism-and painted consistently jewel-like works organized by line, endowed with rich surface texture, and ceramic or glass-like in effect.