Born in Instanbul, Albert Bitran studied at the Collège Saint-Michel there where he passed the French and Turkish Baccalauréats. At the age of 17, he went to Paris to study architecture but abandoned this quickly to concentrate on painting.
At the time of his first solo exhibition of his geometric works, in 1951 at the Galerie Arnaud, a meeting place for the avant-garde of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, he was only twenty years old. He participated in many events, including the first exhibition of abstract art in Caracas and “Divergences” in Paris at the Théâtre de Babylone. In 1954, he exhibited at the Galerie Denise René, with a preface by Henri-Pierre Roché who gave him access to his prestigious collection and rented him a room on the Boulevard Arago where he painted.
However, leaving geometric abstraction, Bitran turned towards an intellectual form of painting which he would continue to the end of his life. He spent long periods of time in the south of France and his first studies are related to landscape, a theme he developed until Naissance d’un Paysage, a large collage of 1956 that was included in the exhibition “L’Envolée Lyrique3” at the Musée du Luxembourg in 2006.
In 1958, Albert Bitran got married, took French citizenship and moved to the Rue des Plantes at Rigny-le-Ferron in the Aube where he had a ceramic studio. He also spent long periods in Italy where he worked and exhibited. In Paris, it was mostly Jean Pollack who showed his work in several exhibitions at the Galerie Ariel. In the 1960s, Bitran evolved with drawings, marouflaged paper and oils, the themes of “L’Atelier” followed by “Intérieur-Extérieur”. In 1962 he also began to make prints and create lithographs, first with Mourlot and then at Bellini and Leblanc. In 1961, in his Copenhagen gallery, Borge Birch held the first solo exhibition of Bitran in Scandinavia. Also the Northern countries, which he frequently visited, from then on showed great interest in his work, as did the Netherlands where he exhibited regularly, first at Nova Spectra in The Hague and then from 1971, in Amsterdam at the gallery of Martin de Boer.
In 1968, he moved to the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs in Montparnasse, where he lived and worked until 2000. From 1970, he created “Doubles”, an analytical questioning of his painting. “With Les Doubles Bitran has perfected his trap” wrote Jean-Louis Baudry in 1978 in his preface for an exhibition at the Galerie Ariel. “Double condenses the terms of the enigma” wrote the philosopher Claude Lefort in Bitran, ou la question de l'œil in 1975, a text that was reprinted in Sur une colonne absente published by Gallimard. Like them, other writer friends followed Bitran’s work and wrote about his painting: these included Charles Estienne, Jean Paris, Pierre Daix, Albert Memmi, Jean-Dominique Rey, Dora Vallier, Manès Sperber, Georges Borgeaud, Jean-Luc Clalumeau, Gérard-Georges Lemaire.
In 1978, he created “Sextuor” a series of six painting in a closed cycle, exhibited according to a plan by Ricardo Porro in museums in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Austria and which is now in Toulouse, having been acquired by the Midi-Pyrénées contemporary art acquisition fund. The themes that followed are “Obliques”, “Linéaires” and “Latéraux”.
In 1979 and 1980, Bitran directed the seminar of the SommerAkademie of Salzburg and Manès Sperber prefaced his exhibition at the Traklhauss.
At the start of the 1980s, Bitran moved his studio to the Lot where he worked for long months, experimenting with techniques of oil on paper and card. He created the “Grandes Formes” that Patrick Bongers chose for his first exhibition of paintings at the Galerie Louis Carré in 1987. Other solo exhibitions of these works: In Switzerland in 1986, at the Galerie Numaga, Auvernier, in Denmark in 1988, Galerie Briz, Copenhagen, in Germany in 1990, Galerie Boissérée, Cologne, in Japan in 1990, Art Point, Tokyo; in the USA in 1992, Louis Stern gallery, Los Angeles.
A retrospective of his work was organized by the Musée de Campredon, at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, in 1991. To coincide with it, an interview with him by Jean Paris was filmed and later published in Coloquio, the journal of the Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon. The Maison des arts Georges-Pompidou of Cajarc presented “Albert Bitran, peintures et dessins 1980-1992”, works in which the light and cliffs of the Lot can be found, with prefaces by Dora Vallier and Claire Stoullig.
Inspired by his childhood memories of Istanbul and his many trips to Turkey, the “Arcades” – paintings and sculptures” were exhibited first in Istanbul at Aksanat and, in 1997, at the Galerie Neve in Ankara, afterwards in France at the Espace Écureuil of Toulouse with a preface by Pierre Daix.
After the series “Les Noirs”, which are oil on paper and were shown in Mexico City in 2008, and then in various cultural centres in France, Bitran continued this investigation on large canvases that he exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 2010 (“Obliques”) and in 2011 at the Galerie des Tuiliers in Lyon in 2012 (“L'Erosion des Noirs”), at the Mont-de-Marsan cultural centre in 2013 (“Méandres”).
In 2013, the Centre Pompidou included in the exhibition “Modernités Plurieslles” a painting from its collection, Un soleil neuf of 1970, which was then shown at the Fondation Clément in Martinique in the exhibition “Le Geste et la Matière”.
In 2000 Bitran left Montparnasse for Montrouge where he built his house and studio.