Georges Valmier

French, 1885-1937 Biography

Georges Valmier was, from the start, an enthusiastic draughtsman. In 1905, he enrolled at the Académie Humbert. Two years later he passed the entrance examination for the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris, where he studied painting in Luc-Olivier Merson's master class until 1909. Valmier's early Cubist-inspired work shows the influence of both Georges Braque and Paul Cézanne, whose work he had become familiar with in 1907 at the Salon d'Automne.

During the years that followed, Valmier did mostly portraits. He articulated the motifs of his still lifes and landscapes like prisms while increasingly enhancing volume. In 1913, the artist had his first opportunity to display his work at the Salon des Indépendants, regularly taking part in these exhibitions until the outbreak of the First World War. Conscripted at once, Valmier sketched his impressions of the war in Carnets de guerre.

On his return to Paris in 1918, Valmier met the collector and art dealer Léonce Rosenberg, who was so enthusiastic about his work that he gave him a contract. The artist now began to make preliminary studies for his paintings in the form of gouaches and collages. He approached his final motif via numerous composition studies, some of them only slight variations in colour or shade. His geometric phase culminated in a period of work that was almost abstract. At the same time Valmier was seeking new materials, experimenting with egg tempera and casein colour.

By 1922, however, he was back to Cubism, producing sophisticated, balanced compositions in vibrant colors. From then on, the artist participated in a great many international exhibitions.

In 1928, his work again underwent a considerable change in character. Curved forms now replaced straight lines in his compositions, lending them an almost vegetal quality.

The early 1930s saw Valmier again turn to abstraction. He joined 'Abstraction-Création', whose founding members included Auguste Herbin, Georges Vantongerloo, Hans Arp, Albert Gleizes, Jean Hélion and Frantisek Kupka. At this time, Valmier was also designing stage sets and costumes for plays by Paul Claudel, Georges Pillement and Max Jacob.

In 1932, he showed work at the group retrospect, Vingt-cinq ans de peinture abstraite, mounted by Galérie Braun. The Galérie des Beaux-Arts in Paris showed work by Valmier in 1935 at their large-scale exhibition devoted to Les créateurs du cubisme. Two years later, the artist completed his last important commission: for the French national railways pavilion at the 1937 Paris Exhibition.