Jacques Germain

French, 1915-2001 Biography

Jacques Germain was a prominent member of the Abstraction Lyrique group in post-war Paris, with Georges Matheiu, Vieira da Silva, and Riopelle.

As a young artist, he worked under Léger at the Académie Moderne in 1931, and Kandinsky at the Bauhaus in 1932. But it wasn’t until after the war that Germain first exhibited his work, at the Salon des Indépendants of 1947. Painting with heightened gestural expression, Germain developed the powerful resonant style for which he is renowned.

By 1948, Germain was already becoming associated with the leading avant-garde, exhibiting with Arp, Bryen, Fautrier, Hartung, Mathieu, Picabia, Tapies and Wols in ‘Blanc et Noir’ at Galerie des Deux Iles in Paris. In 1949, he held an exhibition with Soulages at Atelier de Maywald, and at the same venue in 1951 with Bauer, Sonia Delaunay, Hartung, Kandinsky, Magnelli, Soulages and da Silva. Establishing a reputation, he went on to hold regular solo shows at galleries Maeght, Pierre, Michel Warren, Kriegel, André Schoeller, Jacques Massol and Dina Vierny. 

He also participated in many museum shows in France and abroad.

Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France, 1947
Galerie des Deux Iles, Paris, France, 1948
Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Paris, France 1949
Atelier de Maywald, Paris, France, 1949
Galerie Charpentier, Paris, France
Galerie Kriegel, Paris, France
Gallerie Maeght, Paris, France
Galerie Jacques Massol, Paris, France
Galerie Pierre, Paris, France
Galerie Michel Warren, Paris, France
Galerie André Schoeller, Paris, France
Galerie Dina Vierny, Paris, France
Galerie Michel Warren, Paris, France
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1955
Le Mouvement dans l'art Contemporain, Musée de Lausanne, France, 1955
Exposition Internationale de l’Art Abstrait, Paris, France, 1957
École de Paris, Mannheim, Germany, 1959
Irish International Exhibition of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland, 1962
Retrospective, Couvent des Cordeliers, France, 1997
Hanina Fine Arts, London, England, 2005

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Musée d’Art Moderne, Bremen, France
Musée d’Art Moderne, Bergen, France
Musée d’Art Moderne, Lausanne, France
Musée d’Art Moderne, Lille, France
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris, France
Musée d’Art Moderne, Oslo, Norway

Oil on canvas
21 ⅝ x 18 ½ inches
23 ¼ x 19 ⅞ inches framed
Signed and dated on reverse: 1.VIII.68 J.G.
Atelier number 572 on reverse
Executed 1968

Germain believed that within the natural world a tune or rhythm existed, and he wished to explore the expression of this theory in his paintings. His artistic aim was to capture on canvas the miraculous rhythms and dynamism of nature. The mature development of this theory is shown eloquently and superbly in Composition Abstraite, 1968

In this picture, Germain creates a vertical example of his characteristic canvas style with an “explosion” of rectangular surfaces in varying tones of whites, blues, and golds. Many of these rectangular forms are at the center or “core” of the canvas, and seem to be ignited by touches of red lozenges. Germain has applied this stunning and radiant array of colors to the canvas in deliberate, rapid and rhythmic brushstrokes that enliven and energize the picture, a personal technique which helps both to heighten the expression of the work as well as to create a more intense design flow of both rotating and cascading color. 

However, in much the same way that all is not chaos in nature, the same holds true for Germain’s works, which have patterns, textures, and rhythms that contribute to this physical sense of energy radiating from the heart of the composition. These explosive, energized depictions of vivid and shimmering rectangular surfaces would become Germain’s signature style of painting, and would help to establish him as one of the leading post-war painters in France and in all of Europe.