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Despres, Jean - Biography

Jean Després, born June 15, 1889 in Souvigny (Allier), and died in 1980 in Avallon (Yonne), is a French goldsmith, creator of jewelry, objects and furniture of Art Deco style, specializing in the work of the silver.

Jean Després was born into a descendant family of master glassmakers, Després de Loisy, and glaziers, Turlin. The family moved in Avallon in 1890 to open an articles of paintings and art store at no. 27 rue de Paris and then at no. 20 place Vauban.

He attended school and college in Avallon without being a very bright student. His passion was cycling and competitions. He obtained his patent in 1905. His father placed him in apprenticeship with a friend, goldsmith in Paris in the Marais district.

At the same time, he completed his training by following the drawing classes in the schools of the city of Paris and frequented the Bateau-Lavoir, where he met Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Paul Signac, Giorgio De Chirico, Marie Laurencin, Chaim Soutine, Maurice Utrillo and Georges Braque, whom will be his best friend. He is passionate about cubism.

During World War I, Jean Després was assigned as a draftsman mechanic in the workshops of the military aviation. This double experience will durably mark him and feed all his work. He participated in the Art Deco movement. He had many friends in the avant-garde of the time, such as Paul Jouve or Maurice de Vlaminck.

In the 1920s and 1930s, he took over his parents' store in Avallon and set up his studio where he created motor jewelery, whose pure forms inspired by aeronautical mechanical parts were part of the avant-garde movement. Craftsman of metal, gold, silver, tin, Després shaped material, invented new forms. Like his contemporaries Marcel Sandoz or Raymond Templier, he was one of those pioneers who renounce the codes of high jewelery and the use of precious stones. He participated, with the help of Paul Signac, in his first Salon des Indépendants in 1926.

He also participated in the revival of the forms of goldsmithing by removing the classic ornaments, to create pieces with massive shapes, silver, pewter, usually silver metal, everyone recognizable by its hammered appearance.

In 1935, he took care of the Art and Fashion Gallery at No. 39 rue du Colisée in Paris. In 1936, he married Simone Delattre, painter and decorator on embroidered fabrics. He was rewarded by the Aeroclub which awards him a gold medal in 1937. These works were beginning to be known abroad. The following year, he was named Knight of the Legion of Honor. He run his gallery and kept his studio in Avallon. In 1940, he was President of the Goldsmiths' Union, a professional delegate for artistic protection at the international jewelery-goldsmith's office. He was the goldsmith's rapporteur on the awards commission of the Society for the Promotion of Art and Industry.

In 1943, he came to live on rue de La Trémoille in Paris, where he had a shop at the same address. Among his friends, he counted Pierre Vigoureux and frequented Jules Cavaillès, Worms, Peltier, Lalique, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Fernand Léger and many others. He counted Josephine Baker among his famous clients.

After the war, Jean Després will expose several times, with the support of the State, in different foreign countries. In 1972, he offered the city of Avallon sixty-eight of his works.



EXHIBITIONS

1925: Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, with Rose Adler and the painter Étienne Cournault
1925: International Exhibition of Decorative Arts
1926: Salon des indépendants
1928: Salon of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts
1928: Salon des Artistes-Decorateurs
1930: Union des Artistes Modernes, at the Pavillon de Marsan, he exhibits surrealist jewelry, composed with engraved ice cream by Étienne Cournault
1931: Salon d'Automne
1936: Artists of this time, with Paul Jouve, Raymond Subes, Jean Dunand, Jean Mayodon
1937: World's Fair
1950: Paris, Petit Palais, Holy Year, exhibition of religious art
1951: Paris, Petit Palais, with Simone Delattre, Rouault, Jean Puiforcat, Chagall, Jean Lambert-Rucki, Louis Barillet
1952: Paris, Petit Plais
1950: Holy Year in Vézelay


AWARDS

1937: Aeroclub gold medal for aviation cuts and jewelery
1937: Decorative Arts Awards
1937: Diploma of Honor at the World's Fair
1938: Knight of the Legion of Honor