French painter, lithographer, etcher, ceramist and designer. Born at Bully in the Pas-de-Calais, son of a miner. Brought up at Marles-les-Mines. Worked as a youth down a mine and as a ceiling plasterer; took a correspondence course in art. Moved to Paris in 1927. Worked in the Citroën and Renault factories; in the evenings studied painting at the Ecole du Montparnasse under Auclair, and sculpture and drawing at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs under Wlérick and Arnold. Supported himself for years with various jobs, including layout man for the weekly Regards 1936-9. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie d'Anjou, Paris, 1939. Active in the Resistance from 1940, but painted more and more. From 1945-6 took nature and real life as his starting-point, making numerous preliminary drawings, some directly from nature, and working in series: Miners, The Dead Worker, Grape-harvesting, Olive Trees, Cockfights, Divers, etc. Increasing emphasis on movement and conflict. Close friendship with Picasso from 1951 and began in 1953 to make ceramics at Vallauris, following his example. Thenceforth spent much of his time in Provence. Has also designed for the theatre and made several large murals in fresco or ceramic sculpture. Lives in Paris.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.608