Jean-Pierre Cassigneul is best known for his striking female subjects and the vibrantly colored gardens which often serve as their setting. Born in Paris in 1935, his first private exhibition was held in 1952 at the Galerie Lucy Krogh in Paris, after which he entered the Academie Charpentier. Soon after, he joined the École des Beaux Arts in Paris to study under Professor Jean Souverbie. Cassigneul is an appointed member of the Salon d’Automne and has been represented by the Wally Findlay Galleries since 1968. His work has been extensively exhibited throughout the world, particularly in Western Europe, the United States, and Japan.
Cassigneul’s style follows in the tradition of the early 20th century Post-Impressionist group called Les Nabis, which was comprised of notable French artists like Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis and Felix Vallatton. Named for the Hebrew word meaning “prophets,” Les Nabis were an avant-garde brotherhood that grew out of a shared interpretation of Paul Gauguin’s aesthetic message that sought to free form and color from their traditional descriptive functions in order to express spiritual truth and personal emotion. The core objective of the movement was the creation of a completely subjective work of art that was deeply rooted in the soul of artist.
According to member Charles Chassé, “a picture had meaning only when it possessed style… when the artist had succeeded in changing the shape of the objects he was looking at and imposing on them contours or a color that expressed his own personality.These artists were therefore known for their bright color palette, as well as their compressed interpretation of space and incorporation of stylistic elements characteristic of Japanese woodblock prints, which had attained mainstream popularity on the Continent during that period. Cassigneul integrates these components into his paintings harmoniously, celebrating the vibrant Nabi aesthetic by organizing his compositions into bright, flat spaces that are defined by dark outlines reminiscent of woodblock imagery.
Cassigneul was also greatly influenced by Dutch Expressionist and Fauvist painter Kees Van Dongen, who was known both for his sensuous portraits of red-district bohemian women, as well as his more elegant portrayal of the societal elite. The elongated figures, pale complexions and large blackened eyes of Cassigneul’s female subjects bear a striking resemblance to those of Van Dongen, though without the latter’s blatantly sexual and provocative overtones. Van Dongen’s use of intense, unblended color has also greatly influenced Cassigneul’s aesthetic.
The vibrant scene depicted above is featured in the Nov. 7 Modern & Contemporary Art Sale and is an extraordinary example of Cassigneul’s striking portraits of young society women that are both dramatically contemporary and classically elegant. Speaking about his choice of subject, the artist says, "women and gardens, those two subjects are a natural choice for me.”