Biography - Robert Lapoujade

Robert Lapoujade, painter, filmmaker, writer, self-taught and committed artist, was born on January 3, 1921, in Montauban (Tarn et Garonne).

He participated in numerous individual and collective exhibitions, in France and abroad (Marzotto Prize in 1967). His pictorial work is accompanied by writings  and is interrupted  during a period in which he explores the potential of cinema. His first exhibition took place in Montauban in 1939. In 1942, he moved to Paris where he exhibited regularly starting in 1947. During this period, his paintings, drawings, engravings and illustrations were essentially figurative.

The exhibition: “Pretext and formal painting” (1950 – Galerie Mai, Paris) marks a turning point in his work, with the transition to the informal. The years 1950-1971 were a period of pictorial effervescence during which he also participated in the debates of the time on realism and abstraction. He presents numerous exhibitions on themes such as ‘Hell and the Mine’, ‘Eroticism and non-figuration’, ‘Riots’… There he shows his desire to give “meaning and significance” to his painting. Hiroshima, the deportation, the war in Algeria and May 1968… so many themes that were the occasion to never separate his political commitment from his painting.
He also devotes himself to writing. In addition to numerous articles published in “Les temps modernes, Les lettres nouvelles, l’Arc, Preuves, Positif”…, he published two essays ‘Le mal à voir’ (Ed. Messager Boiteux, 1950) and ‘Les Mécanismes de fascination ‘ (Ed du Seuil, 1955) where he explains his pictorial practice, then a novel ‘L’inadmissible’ (Ed. Nadeau, 1970 ). He was also a lecturer at the film school, Ecole de Vaugirard (Paris, 1968-1971). His first short film ‘Enquête sur un corps’ in 1959 marked the beginning of his cinematographic research as an extension of his activity as a painter. This film is in live action, the films following are mainly films intended to set paintings in motion. His integration into the Research Department of the French Radio Television Office (RTF) in 1960 (then of the ORTF in 1965) favored the ‘research’ orientation of his cinema and the deepening of the relationship between painting and cinema and of which he often spoke . The ten animated films he has made use a wide variety of techniques, drawing, scraping film, or direct painting under the camera, modifying the composition frame by frame.
From 1968, his pictorial activity was reduced by his preoccupation with the production of two feature films. He claims there the same freedom of plastic and political expression as in his painting. He directed ‘Le Socrate’ (special jury prize at the Venice Festival) and ‘Le Sourire Vertical’ (1973), in which live action, pixilation and numerous special effects alternated.

He later made two animated films, using puppets : a short film ‘A comedian without paradox’ (1974) which won him the César for animated film,  and he worked on the development of ‘Memoirs of Don Quixote ‘ (1977-1981), a musical comedy, unfinished, due to lack of means.
In 1981, he obtained the silver medal at the Salon of the Society of French Artists.

From 1980 to 1986, he became a professor at the college of decorative arts (L’École supérieure des Arts décoratifs). It was the time of the return to painting, which he had never entirely abandoned. He exhibits in several galleries. In 1984, he was appointed Officer of Arts and Letters, an honor conferred by the  French Ministry of Culture.

After his death in 1993, two retrospectives were dedicated to him : in 1996 at the Ingres Museum in Montauban and in 1998 at the Galerie in Paris.

Lapoujade : Cinéaste, Écrivain, Artiste autodidacte et engagé
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