Michel Ciry (1919 – 2018)
Michel Ciry was born into an artistic family in La Baule in 1919. He displayed great talent as a child for drawing and music, and he attended l’École Supériure des Arts Appliqués Duperré in Paris, from 1934-37, commencing his studies there at fifteen years old. His first contribution to a group exhibition was at eighteen years old, ‘Artistes de ce Temps’ held at the Petit Palais, Paris.
Michel Ciry also studied musical composition from the age of eighteen with the renowned musician and composer Nadia Boulanger, and other teachers. He composed mainly religious music in an elegant style, which were performed to great acclaim in Paris, London, Brussels and the USA.
During the Second World War, and beyond, he illustrated many books, both by modern and classical French authors, and also by Emily Bronte and Edgar Allan Poe.
By 1958, Michel Ciry had decided to give up musical composition to concentrate entirely on painting. He had exhibited widely his watercolours, etchings, and after 1958, his oil paintings. This was mainly in Parisian galleries, but also in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and the USA and continued throughout his life. He specialised in landscapes and portraits, where he sought to emphasise the spiritual dimension of the sitter and the essential solitary state of humanity. He was also commissioned by the French State to design postage stamps in 1944, 1956, 1982 and 1995. He won many awards and prizes throughout his long career, and he was recognized by the French State in 1974, 1986 and 1992, being created a Chevalier de la Légion d’ Honneur, Officier de l’Ordre Nationale du Mérite, and Officier de la Légion d’Honneur.
In 1942, at the age of twenty three, he started keeping a detailed record of his life, which he continued into old age. These extensive diaries were published in thirty five volumes over the years, and he was also a prolific journalist.
Michel Ciry moved to Varengeville sur Mer in Normandy in 1964, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 2013 the Musée Michel Ciry was opened in the town as an exhibition space permanently devoted to displaying his paintings.
Michel Ciry died in December 2018, just short of his hundredth birthday. He said of his remarkably productive life ‘For me working is a crusade!’