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Jean Miotte, a French painter born in Paris in 1926, created a distinct abstract painting aesthetic that sits in between Informal Art, Tachisme and Lyrical Abstraction. Miotte never used sketches to prepare his work; instead, he likened it to the free-flowing movements of jazz musicians or ballet dancers. His spontaneous and instinctive style of painting was also influenced by Cubism and Surrealism.

Jean Miotte discovered his interest in painting during his military service in 1946, when he created his first artwork on the barracks' walls. He pursued his art education at the Montparnasse studios, guided by Achille-Émile Othon Friesz and Ossip Zadkine. During that time, Miotte was inspired by the theatre and performance arts, particularly the Ballets Russes. He surrounded himself with dancers and choreographers, dreaming of integrating music, painting, and choreography. Lately, The City of Paris commissioned Miotte to create a large-scale piece Sud for the main hall of the Bastille Opera House.

Jean Miotte made his first abstract painting in 1950. At the time, he was living and working at Meudon where he met the artists Jean Arp and Gino Severini. For the first time in 1953, Jean Miotte displayed his work at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles; the German art historian Karl Ruhrberg described his works as “the orchestration of the world that explodes”.

His art was frequently displayed in France in the 1960s, including a solo exhibition in 1957 at the Galerie Lucien Durand and group shows 50 Ans d'Art Abstrait at the Galerie Creuse. The dealer Jacques Dubourg began representing Jean Miotte in 1958. In 1959, Jean Miotte participated in the Section Informels of the first Paris Biennale alongside Raymond Hains, LeRoy Neiman, Peter Foldes, and André Favory. In 1963 Jean Miotte took part in the Art Contemporain show at the Grand Palais.

The success went beyond France. In the 1950s, he held ten exhibitions in Germany. The Ludwig Museum of Cologne purchased his first piece to be displayed in a museum in 1960. In the 1960s, numerous exhibitions of Jean Miotte's work were mounted in the Netherlands (Schiedam Stedelijk Museum and Groninger Museum), Sweden (Galerie Swenska-Franska), Switzerland (Galerie Bonnier), Denmark, and Belgium alongside that of other well-known abstract painters like Chafik Abboud, Olivier Debré, Ida Karskaya, Jean Messagier, Carl Moser, Louis Nallard, and Paul Rebeyrolle.

During the 1960s -1970s, Jean Miotte's art gained recognition from the American art community. He received the Ford Foundation Prize in 1961 and a six-month invitation to the USA. The Iolas Gallery in New York arranged a solo exhibition in 1962. He had the opportunity to meet renowned artists like Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Chaim Jacob Lipchitz, and Alexander Calder. He lectured at Colorado Spring University while on the road throughout the United States. In 1972, the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., displayed 46 of his works.

In 1975 the first monograph of Jean Miotte was published, which praised his original colour and gestural dynamics. From that point on, he began incorporating naked hessian canvas into his works as well as experimenting with paper and creating collages using brown paper and newspaper. In subsequent years, he exhibited his work alongside Enrico Baj, Alexander Calder, and Karel Appel in Padua, as well as participating in the group exhibition Kunst in Europa 1920-1960 in Belgium, which showcased the most prominent figures of contemporary art during that era.

Jean Miotte held numerous exhibitions in Asia in the 1980-90s. In 1978 at Aleppo Museum in Syria, French Cultural Centre in Damascus, Amman Museum in Jordan. He was the first Western painter invited to display his works in China after Mao's death: 50 artworks were presented at the French Cultural Centre in Beijing in May 1980 and at the Hong Kong Art Centre in 1982. Following years, his artwork was displayed in Tokyo, Singapore, and Taipei after Chine.

The scale of his influence was proved when the Guggenheim Museum acquired two works on paper by Jean Miotte in 1987 and the Centre Georges Pompidou exhibited his prints in 1991. Jean Miotte died in 2016 at the age of 89.

Jean Miotte biography

September 8, 1926

Paris, France

March 1st, 2016

Hyères, France


Painter, illustrator


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