After the success of his exhibitions in Paris and New York in 1950, Jean-Michel Coulon spent his life creating, drawing, painting, letting no one enter his studio. In 2014, at his death, his daughter discovered an exceptional body of work, structured, accomplished, intact of more than 800 paintings and collages never exhibited.
Galerie Dutko has chosen to unveil some fifty works, oils on canvas and collages from the 40s to the 2000s. The exhibition reveals his strength of abstraction, his round then geometric style, the density of the material with the use of a knife to mold paint thickness, his brushwork on paper and wood, and his collages of the last years.
1920. Coulon is born in Bordeaux. Very early shows an innate talent for drawing and color.
1930s. Educated in Paris; numerous trips to Germany. His painting of the Sainte-Chapelle astonishes Picasso who encourages him.
1940s. Decides to devote his life to painting. His younger brother Jean-Rémi, in the Resistance, is shot by the Gestapo. Meets his future wife, an American
violinist. His art bursts with colors.
1950s. Many painters visit his exhibition at the Jeanne Bucher gallery. Awarded a grant to study in Amsterdam with Pr van Thienen, a Vermeer expert. Show in NY at Sidney Janis Gallery with 15 French and 15 American painters. Loss of his second brother, Jean-François, a fighter pilot. His studio burns in a fire. His painting becomes dark again.
1960s. Trips to the USA, absolutely fascinated by NY. His painting becomes more structured and vertical. Moves to Brussels.
1970s to 1990s. Exhibition in Brussels is successful. Numerous trips, especially to Italy, yielding bright colors in the paintings. Then declines all exhibition proposals. Seems to refuse the recognition of the general public. Remains secretive.
2000s. Moves to Paris. His work evolves from painting to collages. He retains an astonishing level of creative energy.
2014. In his final days, he continues to work with shimmering colors. He dies at home in Paris.
2018. First monography and first exhibition in Paris for 68 years.
Lydia Harambourg, Jean-Michel Coulon, Gourcuff-Gradenigo