Albert Decaris. 1901-1984 (France)
This remarkably original artist, one of the most celebrated print makers of his day, is almost beyond categorisation. Indeed he warrants a category that is uniquely his own. We do, however, for the sake of the coherence of our website need to place him in respect to the 'gallery' sections, and as a result find that we enter him into three different groupings. Though his dates, 1901 - 1984, place him too late to be a practicing member of the Symbolist movement in art, we still include him there as his imagination and sensibilty fit so well. His actual dates are more aligned with the time of Art Deco, and his renditions often reflect the imagery of that time. Lastly, there is a powerful visionary element to his mythical subjects and beyond, and there can be an almost feverish, elemental and spiritual vibrancy which at times is reminiscent of Willam Blake; so he is also included here in our pastoral and visionary section. We can think of few others who can express such energy and independence in their art.
At the age of eighteen he was already honoured and earmarked for success as an artist print-maker, winning the 1919 Grand Prix de Rome, the youngest artist ever to do so.This entitled him to extend his stay in Rome, a sojourn that proved very influential. Awards and honours continued through his career, accompanied by the admiration of colleagues and a reputation as one of the great masters of print-making.
Without hyperbole, his imagination and the sheer scale of his work, can be described as epic. In a practical sense, this was perhaps aided by his preference for engraving on steel rather than the usual etching on copper, so that he could produce works of large, and for prints, sometimes monumental size, and with an effect in the engraved line that had a sharpness and clarity of detail that was significantly his own. In many of his works the concentration on detail carries an impact which duly conveys the fervent intensity of his vision. The many works that he made on mythological themes were most suitable vehicles for such expression. There are also many landscapes that are imbued with an historical and archaeological essence and despite their remarkable, topographical detail, still create an evocative, rich mood of antiquity.
Decaris was born in Sotteville-les-Rouen in 1901 and died in Paris in 1988. His studio in Paris was on the left bank where it overlooked the Seine and the Louvre. As well as his independent works on themes of his choosing, he sumptuously illustrated many books during his career, often with the additional publishing of separate suites of the prints. He was accepted into the Academie des Beaux-arts in 1943, and in 1962 became the official painter of the Marine Francaise.