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Olivier Debré (1920-1999)


Olivier Debré - Sans titre 1975

Document sans nom

In 1941, Olivier Debré « met Picasso. Repeated visits to the older artist’s studio would have a decisive influence on the young painter. He looked from then on to express his emotion without passing through representation. For him, the sign appears like the incarnation of emotion and thought. While being abstract, he nevertheless considers that the sign does not signify anything other than reality. »

« Around 1950, Debré favoured muted materials and colours. Still driven by the idea of the sign as a depiction of thought, he painted the series of Figure Signs.” “the use of the side of the knife’s blade and a sober palette leaning towards monochrome recalls Nicolas de Staël’s works  of the same period. »

« At the beginning of the 1960s, Olivier Debré returned to landscape and found his original way. Fluidity of the material spread out in broad undulated monochromatic areas with punctuations of thick coloured concretions which limit and generate space.»

« He thus described his painting as fervently abstract because it symbolised the emotion aroused by the contemplation of a landscape. Most often he painted outside, integrated into the landscape, eliminating as much as possible the distance that exists between perception and transcription. »

« In his titles, the artist reveals the landscapes depicted: Seen at Toledo, 1958, Jerusalem pink ochre, 1972, Madurai Rose, lively blots, India 1989; Pale Pink of Teotihuacan, Mexico, 1997. »

« In 1967, Olivier Debré represented France at the 1967 Universal Exposition in Montreal. »

« During the 1980s and 90s, Olivier Debré benefited from several public commissions, such as that of the stage curtain of the Comédie-Française, unveiled in 1987. The stage curtain of the Hong Kong opera house, requested by the Louis Vuitton foundation was unveiled in 1989 and that of the new Shanghai opera house in 1998. »

« In 1995, the Jeu de Paume national gallery organized a retrospective. The exhibition circulated in Europe and Latin America. »

According to the biography  about Olivier Debré
by Ariane Lemieux, 2003



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