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Max Jacob

biography

Quimper (Francia) 1876 - 1944

After spending his childhood in Quimper, Brittany, France, Max Jacob enrolled in the Paris Colonial School, which he left in 1897 for an artistic career. He was one of the first friends Pablo Picasso made in Paris. They met in the summer of 1901, and it was Jacob who helped the young artist learn French. Later, on the Boulevard Voltaire, he shared a room with Picasso, who remained a lifelong friend (and was included in his artwork Three Musicians). Jacob introduced him to Guillaume Apollinaire, who in turn introduced Picasso to Georges Braque. He would become close friends with Jean Cocteau, Jean Hugo, Christopher Wood and Amedeo Modigliani, who painted his portrait in 1916. He also befriended and encouraged the artist Romanin, otherwise known as French politician and future Resistance leader Jean Moulin. Moulin's famous nom de guerre Max is presumed to be selected in honor of Jacob. Jacob, who had Jewish origins, claimed to have had a vision of Christ in 1909, and converted to Catholicism. Max Jacob is regarded as an important link between the symbolists and the surrealists, as can be seen in his prose poems Le cornet à dés (The Dice Box, 1917 - the 1948 Gallimard edition was illustrated by Jean Hugo) and in his paintings, exhibitions of which were held in New York City in 1930 and 1938. His writings include the novel Saint Matorel (1911), the verses Le laboratoire central (1921), and Le défense de Tartuffe (1919), which expounds his philosophical and religious attitudes.  Eventually he would be forced to move to Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, Loiret, where he was hiding during the German occupation of World War II. Jewish by birth, Jacob’s brother was deported to Auschwitz and then his sister Mirthé-Léa and her husband were deported where they were murdered by the Nazis. On February 24, 1944 Max Jacob too was arrested by the Gestapo and put into Orléans prison. He was then transferred to Drancy internment camp from which he was to be transported to a concentration camp in Germany. However, said to be suffering from bronchial pneumonia, Max Jacob died in Drancy on March 5. First interred in Ivry, after the war ended in 1949 his remains were transferred by his artist friends Jean Cassou and René Iché (who sculpted the tomb of the poet) to the cemetery at Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire in the Loiret département.

exhibitions

  • 12/05/2006
  • GOUACHES, DISEGNI, INCISIONI
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  • 08/06/2011
  • IL TEMPO DI MODIGLIANI
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publications