ROY Pierre
( 1880-1950). French painter, born in Nantes; died in Milan. He wanted to be a sailor but gives up the idea and begins studying architecture. The offspring of a middle-class family, related to that of Jules Verne, he was deeply impressed as a child by Verne's stories, which were told to him by the writer's brother. His repressed ambition was to become a sailor. Instead, his secondary studies finished, he entered an architect's office. From this period, which did not last long, he retained a taste for precise, neat draughtsmanship, plans, worked and inalterable materials: stone, wood, rope, metal. Paris attracted him. He first enrolled at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts and then attended the Académie Julian and the École des Arts Décoratifs. In 1910 he developed a relationship with the Fauves and becomes friendly with André Salmon, Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire. He wrote and illustrated with coloured woodcuts the volume Comptines, which was not published until 1926. An heir of the NeoImpressionists, he changed his manner after the First World War. In 1920 he made friends with the future Surrealists and participated in their first two exhibitions ( Pierre Loeb Gallery, 1925; Surrealist Gallery, 1931). Launched and in demand in the United States, he visited America every year and organized large exhibitions. IIn 1939 he went to the Hawaian Islands for publicity purposes because he had been asked to paint pineapples "on the spot." As a decorator he worked for the Ballets Suédois of Rolf de Maré; and as an illustrator he produced a series of lithographs for The Child of the High Sea of Jules Supervielle ( 1946). It was on his way to an exhibition in Bergamo, where he was showing some of his work, that he died suddenly in Milan on September 26th, 1950. Curious about everything, a fine scholar, a sure, keen critic, he brought to everything the rigour that made him both solitary and classic. In spite of inevitable affinities, his work remains isolated in its time. Its distinctive features in minute care, refinement, finish, realism to the point of trompe-l'ail, a rendering of materials comparable to that of the old Flemish and Dutch masters, and -- in deliberate contrast -- the unusual, the startling in composition. He took pleasure in assembling heterogeneous objects-pieces of reed or wood, even logs, hair, ribbons, birds' eggs, artificial flowers, small pebbles, seeds, cardboard castles, shells, wool and silk, wicker baskets, and sometimes simple machines (the wheel, for example, the central motif of several of his pictures) -- somewhat in the way that children in their games make up displays or counters, his set purpose being to suggest through transposition of meaning and unexpected juxtapositions, both a new significance and a sort of strange poetry, revealing a thirst for escape and in inner freedom comparable to that of writers and poets.
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