The ‘Hilaire’-strious Career of Camille Hilaire

hilaire - nu au miroir“Nu au Miroir”

French painter and weaver Camille Hilaire was born on 2 August 1916 in Metz. He began painting from a young age and by the age of 15, he had discovered the work of Albrecht Dürer in the Metz City Library and began making copies. Some of his drawings were displayed in a local bookshop and drew the attention of Jean Giono and Nicolas Untersteller, the Director of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

  • Hilaire won a scholarship which enabled him to travel around Spain and Italy during 1933-1934. Much of this helped inspire new directions for his art.
  • He was later drafted into the army and participated in the campaign of France and was taken prisoner. He was fortunate to escape and returned to Paris in early 1941.
  • During the Occupation, he was condemned to secrecy and enrolled under a false name at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
  • By 1942-1943, while remaining at Beaux-Arts, Hilaire came under the tutelage of the Cubist artist André Lhote, with whom he became friends, and soon became his assistant.
  • Hilaire was appointed Professor of the Beaux-Arts in Nancy, where he taught from 1947 to 1958, and then in Paris until 1968.
  • He was awarded the Prix de Venise in 1948 and the Prix de la Casa de Velázquez in 1950.
  • He held his first exhibition in Paris in 1951 at the Gallerie Valloton.

His nudes were remarkable, with perfect curves, coiled with charm and set in a context in which their sensual fullness imposed itself with provocative grace. As for his landscapes, he could determine the structure without apparent constraints, overlaying a fresh, spicy green that is so characteristic of them.
hilaire “L’arbre”

He married Anne-Marie Reslinger in 1934, with whom he had a daughter, Jeannine.  By 1942, he married for the second time to Simone Jance, a fellow art student, with whom he had four children: Christiane, Pascale, Claude, (a painter going by the name of Hastaire), and Florence, a painter and sculptor who is known by the pseudonym Cantié-Kramer.

Camille Hilaire died on 7 June 2004.

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