Oscar Gauthier (1921 – 2001)
Oscar Gauthier was born in Fours in 1921. His father was a keen amateur painter and encouraged his son, who delighted in observing the nature and light in the surrounding countryside. The family moved to Paris in 1931 where the young Oscar Gauthier discovered the works of the Impressionists which further fired his imagination and his passion for painting. He studied at the École des Beaux Arts between 1941-1947 with a short spell at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in 1943, under the artist Othon Friesz. His studies in Paris were further interrupted during this time by the Second World War and he spent most of year of 1944 in the Morvan district of France as a member of the Resistance.
However, he still managed to exhibit during this time at the annual Salon des Moins de Trente Ans and at the École des Beaux Arts at the end of his studies in 1947. Here he was awarded a scholarship which enabled him to travel to the USA and Mexico for a year where he visited many museums which opened up new horizons and influences.
By 1948 he was back in Paris and had discovered the work of Paul Klee, Joan Miró, and Wassily Kandinsky, and had his first one man show in 1950 at the Galerie Colette Allendy, followed by a second in 1951, both of which were to great critical acclaim and success. Thereafter he regularly exhibited with the Galerie Jean-Robert Arnaud who sold his work in Europe, Canada, USA and Japan.
From the late 1950s onwards Oscar Gauthier worked for six months of the year at a studio at his parents house at Fours, away from the influences of the Parisian art world. His style evolved from pure abstraction, juxtaposed semi-rectangular shapes applied with a palette knife, to more lyrical, flowing images once again showing the influence of the surrounding countryside, prompting the art critic Michel Ragon to name the style Paysagisme Abstrait. The 1960s saw a return to minimal shapes, primary colours, and childlike Miró-esque images, influenced by his love of the circus and music hall entertainers.
By the 1970s a return once again to the influence of nature produced a series of soft, lyrical, floral abstraction canvases which Gauthier called Botanographies, but by the 1980s until the end of his life a new sharper linear style emerged which he called Bandes, which in turn evolved into the most pared down and simplified vision of his later works, allowing him to explore chromatic harmonies at will, with wide brush strokes of vibrant colour, often, but not always, on a monochromatic background.
In addition to one man shows, Gauthier participated regularly in various group exhibitions throughout his life, including Salon d’Octobre, Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Salon de Mai and Salon d’Automne, and group exhibitions worldwide. His paintings are represented in the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. Oscar Gauthier died in 2009.