Andre Lhote
Biography of Cubist Painter and Art Teacher.

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L'Escale (1913)
Musee d’Art Moderne
de la Ville de Paris.

Andre Lhote (1885-1962)


Early Life and Arts Training
Analytical Cubism and Section d'Or
Postwar Support from Leonce Rosenberg
Writing and Teaching

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One of the most thoughtful and versatile of modern artists, Andre Lhote was gifted in both painting and sculpture, although he is probably best known as an influential teacher and critic of modern art. During the first half of his career, his main interest was Cubism, a style he applied to his figure painting, his portraiture and his landscapes, as well as his still lifes. Marked by meticulous composition, his pictures were characterized by complex systems of interacting planes and geometrical forms, with precise unmodulated colours. During the second half of his career he was heavily involved in art education, opening his own school in Paris and another in Rio de Janeiro. Among his pupils were Irish artists including Evie Hone (1894–1955) and Norah McGuinness (1901-1980), and the great art deco artist Tamara de Lempicka (1895-1980).

Early Life and Arts Training

Born in Bordeaux, Lhote was apprenticed at the age of 12 to a local craftsman, who introduced him to wood carving. After this he studied sculpture at the city's Academy of Fine Arts (1898-1904), where he also practiced painting in his spare time. In 1905, he decided to focus on painting full-time. Accordingly, the following year, he left home and moved to Paris where he set up his own studio. Fauvism was the hot style when Lhote arrived in the French capital, but 1906 was also the year of the great Gauguin exhibition at the Salon d'Automne, and 1907 saw the famous Cezanne retrospective at the same venue. So although his first works were colourful Fauvist-style landscapes, he was - like many painters of the Ecole de Paris - hugely inspired by both these revered masters, notably Cezanne who exerted a major influence on the early Cubist painting (1907-9) of both Picasso (1881-1973) and Georges Braque (1882-1963).

Analytical Cubism and Section d'Or

In 1910, four years after moving to Paris, Lhote held his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Druet. By this time he was already shifting towards Analytical Cubism, the first, most austere, and most abstract form of Cubism. In 1912 Lhote pursued his interest in abstract art by joining the Section d'Or a group of 20th century painters associated with Cubism, and a derivative called Orphism, who were active from 1912 to 1914. The group held only one exhibition (1912) at the Galerie La Boetie. In addition to Lhote, participants included: Robert Delaunay (1885-1941), Albert Gleizes (1881-1953), Francis Picabia (1879-1953), Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), Jean Metzinger (1883-1956), Juan Gris (1887-1927), Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876-1918), Fernand Leger (1881-1955), Louis Marcoussis (1883-1941), and Roger de la Fresnaye (1885-1925).

Postwar Support from Leonce Rosenberg

The outbreak of World War I put Lhote's career on hold until 1917 when, following his discharge from the army, he was one of a group of Cubist painters supported by the Parisian gallery owner and dealer Leonce Rosenberg (1879-1947) (elder brother of art dealer Paul Rosenberg). Leonce Rosenberg became one of the most influential French art collectors of the interwar years. An early champion of Cubism - a style to which he remained faithful all his life - he took over the role of "Cubist art dealer" from the German Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884-1979) when the latter's collection was sequestered by the French state. And from 1918 to 1941, his Galerie de L'Effort Moderne was an important market for drawing and oil painting by Cubist artists.

Writing and Teaching

In 1918, Lhote began to write regular articles on painting and sculpture for the prestigious arts journal Nouvelle Revue Francaise, a task he continued until 1940. Later, he completed major treatises on landscape painting (1939) and figure painting (1950). In addition, he lectured widely throughout France and other countries, including Belgium, Italy, Britain, and - in the 1950s - Egypt and Brazil. In fact he opened a South American branch of his school in Rio de Janeiro (1952).

At the same time he began a highly successful career as an art teacher. From 1918 to 1920 he taught at the Academy of Notre-Dame des Champs, and later at other art schools in Paris - such as the Academy of La Grande Chaumiere. In 1922 he founded his own school, the Academy Montparnasse. It was largely through his teaching that Lhote had an extensive influence over succeeding generations of 20th-century painters, from both France and overseas.

In 1955, at the age of 70, he received the Grand Prix National de Peinture, and UNESCO appointed him President of the International Association of Painters, Engravers and Sculptors. Andre Lhote died in Paris at the age of 77.

Paintings by Lhote can be seen in some of the best art museums around the world.


• For more modernist painting, see: Greatest 20th Century Paintings.
• For more details of modern painting in France, see: Homepage.

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