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Louis Vivin


(Hadol, 1861 – Paris, 1936)

Born in the Vosges into a family of schoolteachers, Louis Vivin made a career in the administration of the PTT (Postes Télégraphes et Téléphones). Although he painted all his life, it was only after his retirement in 1923 for his exemplary attitude during the war that he devoted himself fully to painting until 1934, when a paralysis of the right arm forced him to give up painting.

His first exhibition took place at the Salon des agents des Postes in 1889. He then founded the art section of the PTT, but it was above all his meeting with the art critic Wilhelm Uhde in 1924 that was to foster his recognition. The latter was a fervent defender of the “Modern Primitives” (Douanier Rousseau, Bauchant, Bombois, Séraphine, Rimbert, Peyronnet, etc.) with whom he associated Louis Vivin. He then organised a solo exhibition for him in 1925, which brought him out of anonymity, and then exhibited him alongside the Douanier-Rousseau, Bombois and Séraphine Louis at the Galerie des Quatre Chemins.

International recognition came a year after his death, at the exhibition “Les Maîtres populaires de la réalité” (1937, Paris, Salle Royale).

The themes that Vivin painted were inspired in particular by the postcards that he used to collect (historical Parisian monuments, Montmartre, quays of the Seine, etc.). The treatment of urban landscapes by this self-taught painter is not an attempt at objective representation according to an interpretation of space. The stone-by-stone construction of his compositions reflects a confrontation between the vision of the outside world and the organisation imposed by his personality. The result is a painting that aspires to the rest of the senses and to a severe and pure intellectual construction. The solitude, monotony and natural sadness of everyday life strip his paintings of all realism and severely assert the banal reality for this painter who, out of modesty, could not have dared to paint the imaginary. But behind all these regular, seemingly objective facades, the uncertain, the mysterious and the sorrowful emerge.

Scène de port, circa 1930-1931
Huile sur toile
46,3 x 61,3 cm

Loups attaquant un cerf, circa 1926
Huile sur toile
45 x 56 cm

Le Luxembourg, circa 1930-1931
Huile sur toile
54,6 x 73,7 cm


Copyright Galerie Dina Vierny 2017