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Portrait of Gérard Garouste, the "crazy" painter

- 22/08/2022
Garouste biography sculptor, painter, engraver

Gérard Garouste ? The name rings a bell, but how much do you really know about this character with a full biography ? Let us tell you more!




Born in 1946, he is one of the most highly rated contemporary French artists. A painter, sculptor, engraver and even actor, he is full of energy, just like his work.

From 1965 to 1972, he was a boarder at the Collège du Montcel, where he studied Fine Arts with the painter Gustave Singier. It was there that he discovered Marcel Duchamp, and through him, conceptual art (an artistic movement that defines art by the concept, or the idea, even before the object is produced).

At that time, he created a multitude of scenographies for his comrade and author, Jean - Michel Ribbes, as well as humoristic drawings. At the end of the 70's, after having seen the works of Jean Dubuffet, he turned to figurative art (which represents what is visible, in its smallest details, or in a simplified way).

Garouste first exhibited his mythological, allegorical and figurative paintings at the Durand Dessert art gallery in 1980. From there, his first international exhibitions followed, in New York, then at Léo Castrelli and Sperone, then in Berlin, where he was the only French artist at the Zeitgeist exhibition.

Institutional recognition followed in 1987, at the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, and by the Fondation Cartier. It was there, moreover, that in 2001, he presented "Ellipse", a set of canvases fixed on a support that he had designed himself.

biography Gérard Garouste

He draws his inspiration from myths and legends, sacred texts and secular literature of the past. He studied the Bible and the Talmud, while learning Hebrew. "Legends, fables and fairy tales are the subjects of my paintings," he says. He uses bright, vivid colours to draw characters with tortured minds, twisted limbs, apparently in the grip of strong emotions. He confided to Connaissance des arts magazine: "The constant in my attitude is the idea of returning to the sources, to the founding myths. What is behind these myths? That is what I am trying to find out.



An abundant body of work


We have talked a lot about his painting, but let us not forget that he is not only a painter.

In 1977, at the Palace, he presented a play for which he was the author, set designer and even director: "The Classic and the Indian". He worked in this theatre as a set scenographer and painter until 1992.

He also created works for the Palais de l'Elysée, sculptures for Evry Cathedral, and the ceiling of a theatre in Namur.

In 1989, he worked for the Théâtre du Châtelet. He received
more and more important commissions, such as the one in 1996 for the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He created a set combining painting and wrought iron. He is increasingly interested in sculpture and engraving, as well as in the illustrations of great texts such as Don Quixote.

In 2008, he was commissioned by the State to create "the Murex and the Spider", a huge 24 square metre model of the Aubusson tapestry, for the town hall of this city.

In 2013, he changed roles as Alain in the film "Elle s'en va", alongside Catherine Deneuve.

In partnership with the glass artist Pierre Alain Parot, he created the stained glass windows of Notre Dame de Talant.

You can admire his sculptures in many places in France and Belgium. In 1984, he sculpted "le défi du soleil" which can be seen in the gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris. "Saint Georges contre le dragon" can be seen in the Town Hall of Mons. The cathedral of Evry houses a Christ and a "virgin and child", and the courthouse of Lyon also houses one of his sculptures.



In 2009, he published an autobiographical story with the eponymous title. When you know the richness of his work, you think that this name suits him perfectly. But above all, he talks about his 'non-tranquility' of mind. In this book, which he calls "the self-portrait of a painter, a son, a madman", he reveals family secrets. His father, a convinced anti-Semite, was condemned after the war for having despoiled the Leviathan establishments. The contemporary artist sees in this heritage the origin of his psychological problems. He confides in us about his disorders and delusions, for which he was treated in his youth and in recent years at the Hôpital Sainte Anne.

biography l'intranquille Garouste

Sensitive to the poverty of certain families living in his region, the Eure, he founded the association "La Source" in 1991. This association helps children and adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds and in very difficult situations. Through workshops led by professional artists, it enables them to open up to the world and discover themselves. Gérard Garouste came in person during the first years, today he finances the projects. In 30 years, two thousand artists have worked with 93,000 young people, giving them a better chance for the future. "Art is fundamental for a child. It builds them up", says the painter, who today sees his painting as complementary to his social role, to the idea of transmission.

Since 2001, the Templon gallery has represented him on Rue Beaubourg in Paris, where he regularly exhibits.

Since 2000, he has had almost one exhibition a year, mainly in Paris, but also in Rome in 2009, in New Delhi in 2020, in Cairo in 2019. He has also been seen in the south of France, in Montpellier and at the famous Maeght Foundation in St Paul de Vence.

On 13 December 2019, he was elected to the Académie des Beaux Arts, in the seat of Georges Mathieu.


From 7 September until January 2023, you can admire a retrospective of his work at the Pompidou Centre. You will see one hundred and twenty major paintings, often of very large format, as well as sculptures and graphic works. In parallel to this superb exhibition, in the children's studio, you can visit an exhibition dedicated to "The Source".

Discover other articles about Gérard Garouste :

🎨Garouste and his works: paintings, sculptures
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