Jacques Villon Biography
The leading Cubist artist, Jacques Villon achieved a highly personalised form of abstraction through the breakdown of shape into Cubist components. Jacques Villon’s first works of this nature date from around 1911-12 and he continued with this approach to art throughout his life.
Jacques Villon was the pseudonym of Gaston Duchamp, the eldest of three remarkable brothers – his younger siblings being the celebrated artist Marcel Duchamp and the sculptor Raymond Duchamp. Gaston changed his name upon his arrival in Paris in 1894 to take that of the French satirical poet and in 1895 he joined Cormon’s studio near Montmartre. It was here that Jacques Villon became friends with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, an artist whose work was to greatly influence the development of his style. In the same year Jacques Villon became acquainted with the master printer Eugène Delâtre, who was to initiate him into the techniques of colour printmaking using etching and aquatint. Over the following decade Jacques Villon achieved an absolute mastery of these techniques, creating some of the most striking colour prints of the period.
Jacques Villon’s artistic career was to encompass the transition away from the colour of Belle Epoque subjects to experiment with abstraction and delve deep into the concepts of space, structure and form to explore a new style of art which became known as Cubism.
Through his friendship with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jacques Villon was introduced to the possibilities of lithography and much of his earliest work as an illustrator and as a printmaker was produced through the lithographic medium. Jacques Villon only returned to lithography as a means of making original prints in the latter years of his life, his first works to reappear in this medium dating from about 1956. These late colour lithographs are extremely rare and few were ever released in formal editions.