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A major figure of the New School of Paris and of 20th century French avant-garde painting, his painting - non-figurative - is a humanism, an abstraction that tends towards colour, timelessness and purity. His lines and flat tints bear witness (as does his speech) to a certain spirituality and an endearing poetry.

Jean Bazaine was born on 21 December 1904 in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. He is the great-great-grandson of the painter George Hayter, portraitist of Queen Victoria, and of the engineer of the Ponts et Chaussées Pierre-Dominique Bazaine (1809-1893). After a short period at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Jean Bazaine attended the Académie Julian in 1922 and then worked on sculpture with Paul Landowski. At the Sorbonne, he took courses from the art historian Henri Focillon. In 1924 he began to paint, drawing at the Louvre or from nature and also taking an interest in theatre. At his first exhibition in 1932, Pierre Bonnard confided to him: "I am happy to see someone working in my way, I am so alone". In 1937, together with Jean Le Moal, he painted a mural for the Paris International Exhibition, created his first stained glass window for a private chapel and met Jacques Villon, with whom he later became friends. In 1939, Bazaine was mobilised in Lorraine.

In 1941, he was put in charge of the Plastic Arts section of the Jeune France organisation (infiltrated by opponents of the Vichy regime and dissolved in 1942). Bazaine worked with Jean Vilar and Maurice Blanchot. With André Lejard he organised the exhibition "Twenty young painters in the French tradition" in 1941, despite official condemnations of "degenerate art", the first demonstration of avant-garde painting in Paris during the Occupation. With Maurice Estève, he joined the Galerie Louis Carré in 1942, which also exhibited Charles Lapicque and Jacques Villon. In 1943, he met Georges Braque, whom he would meet often after the Liberation.

From 1958 onwards, retrospective exhibitions of Bazaine's paintings were held in Switzerland and the Netherlands, in Germany and Norway, and in 1965 in Paris at the National Museum of Modern Art. He created mosaics in 1960 for the Unesco building in Paris, in 1961 for the liner France and in 1963 for the Maison de la Radio. In 1964, Bazaine was awarded the Grand Prix National des Arts and began working with the master glass artist Henri Déchanet on the stained glass windows of the Saint-Séverin church in Paris, which were completed in 1969. In 1967 he organised, with Alexander Calder, an exhibition-sale in aid of the Vietnamese Red Cross, and another in 1968, in which Édouard Pignon took part, in aid of students.

In 1973, Bazaine published a second book, Exercice de la peinture, and the following year he produced a series of tapestries, Blasons des douze mois. After the questionable restoration of the stained glass windows in Chartres Cathedral, he founded the "Association for the Defence of French Stained Glass" with Manessier in 1976. For the creation of the stained glass windows of the cathedral of Saint-Dié (Vosges) which was proposed to him, he gathered a team in 1984 in which Geneviève Asse, Gérald Collot, Elvire Jan, Lucien Lautrec, Jean Le Moal and Alfred Manessier participated. During the same years, he created a mosaic for the Senate (Palais du Luxembourg), and at the request of Jack Lang, the enamelled lava decoration of the walls and vault of the Cluny-La-Sorbonne metro station. In 1990 a retrospective of his work was presented in the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais in Paris. From 1946 onwards and particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, Bazaine illustrated numerous books with drawings or lithographs, notably by André Frénaud, Raymond Queneau, Jean Tardieu, Marcel Arland, Jean-Claude Schneider, Claude Esteban, Pierre Oster Soussouev and Eugène Guillevic.

Jean Bazaine died on 4 March 2001 in Clamart. He is one of the painters gathered for the exhibition "L'envolée lyrique, Paris 1945-1956" presented at the Musée du Luxembourg (Sénat), from April to August 2006. An exhibition in homage to Jean Bazaine was presented at the Musée de l'Abbaye Sainte-Croix in Sables-d'Olonne in 2006.

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