The Jean Hugo retrospective at the Pavillon du Musée Fabre marks the brilliant climax of a year of celebrations in Lunel, Blérancourt, Paris, and Alès, commemorating the centenary of the artist's birth.
The show features 152 paintings, gouaches, drawings, illustrated books and pieces of furniture from public and private collections in Europe and North America, representing the full scope of Hugo's artistic, beginning with the brilliant works executed during the wild years in Paris following his marriage to Valentine Gross in 1919. The couple's circle of famous friends included Jean Cocteau, Raymond Radiguet, Georges Auric, Erik Satie, Max Jacob and Darius Milhaud. Hugo's early stage designs are also included (Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel, 1921; Olive chez les Nègres, 1926…). The pair moved to a family property in Lunel, the Mas de Fourques, in 1929. Hugo's subsequent work reflected his baptism as a Christian in 1931, his enchanted discovery of the ancient landscapes of Languedoc, and his many travels throughout France, Tunisia, England or the USSR (in the company of Paul Eluard, with whom he attended celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Victor Hugo). Turning his back on Impressionism and Fauvism, he adapted the essential principles of Cubism to his own ends, producing a powerful, independent body of work whose ingenuous classicism owes much to the example of the Italian and Flemish Primitives as to Poussin, Corot, Cézanne or the Douanier Rousseau.