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Our selection of works of Jean-Michel Atlan (1913-1960)

Works of Jean-Michel Atlan (1913-1960), a french artist who was born to a Berber-Jewish family in Algeria. In 1930, he moved to France to study at the Sorbonne university. He was appointed as Philosophy teacher in 1939 in a high school in Laval, and then taught in the Parisian high school of Condorcet, between 1940 and 1941, after what anti-Semitic laws forced him to leave this post. He then moved to the artistic area of Montparnasse, where he discovered painting, and poverty. In 1942, he was arrested for being Jewish, as well as being part of the Resistance. He managed to escape the extermination camps simulating madness, which led him to be sent to the mental hospital of Sainte-Anne, where he stayed until the Liberation of Paris. What Atlan experienced during the Occupation left a remaining imprint on his work... Jean-Michel Atlan was a friend of Gertrude Stein, who was one of his first collectors. He made his way through painting thanks to poetry. He exhibited his first works (expressionist) in 1944 at the "Salon des Surindépendants", and published an illustrated Poetry collection he wrote in the mental institution. At that time, he was able to earn a living thanks to small jobs as pedlar and fortune teller… In the mid 1940's, Atlan met Asger Jorn and joined the CoBrA movement. His style got closer to Lyrical Abstraction. In 1946, he exhibited alongside Braque and Matisse at the Denise René gallery. In the mid 1950's, Atlan achieved his breakthrough as an artist, after exhibiting at the Charpentier gallery in Paris. During this decade, he received a lot of attention from France, Germany, Great Britain, but also from Japan and the United States. He was then considered as one of the most important figure of the "Nouvelle École de Paris" and French Lyrical Abstraction. During an exhibition in London in 1959, Atlan suffered from a very bad haemorrhage, and died of cancer in February 1960, before he could present his works in New York. The French National Museum of Modern Art payed him tribute in 1963 with an important retrospective. Atlan's works are conserved in museums all over the world: Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris), museums in Antibes, Grenoble, Lille, and Lyon in France, Tate Gallery (London), New York Museum of Modern Art, as well as museums in Köln, Tokyo, Haifa, or Stuttgart.