Artist biography

French painter. Son of a lawyer, he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Algiers in 1904 before enrolling at that of Bordeaux the following year. He moved to Paris in 1910. From 1919 he exhibited regularly at the Paris salons, becoming an accepted figure among both the Salon Cubists and the adherents of the later ‘rappel à l'ordre' that advocated a return to Classical values.

Bissière's almost abstract landscape paintings of 1927–8 clearly anticipate the works of the so-called Jeunes Peintres de Tradition Française of the 1940s. By the mid 1930s, however, a humorous, ironical streak offset Bissière's debt to Braque with classical parody.

Bissière left Paris in 1939. After the exhibition of the Bayeux tapestry at the Louvre in 1944, Bissière began his series of wall hangings in the tradition of medieval tapestry. Employing the rectangular structures and simple images of frescoes, they were made up from scraps of cloth and wool, roughly stitched together by Bissière's wife Mousse. Bissière's rustic sculptures, assemblages of iron machinery and pieces of wood used abandoned materials in the same way, exemplifying the ‘bricolage' aesthetic of the deprived Occupation years.

After 1947 Bissière used smaller formats, initially because of a deteriorating eye condition, cured in 1950. From c. 1945 until 1954 he painted almost exclusively in egg tempera on cardboard, wood and paper.

In the late 1950s he returned to oil painting and designed stained-glass windows for the transepts of Metz Cathedral in 1960–61.

Bibliography
M.-P. Fouchet: Bissière (Paris, 1955)
Roger Bissière (exh. cat., Hannover, Kestner-Ges.; Lübeck, St-Annen-Mus.; 1957)
Bissière (exh. cat., Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.; 1957–8)
Bissière: Artisan de la cathédrale (exh. cat., Metz, Mus. A. & Hist., 1959)
Bissière (exh. cat., Paris, Mus. N. A. Mod., 1959)
Bissière (exh. cat., Paris, Mus. A. Déc., 1966)
Bissière: Peinture, 1945–1964 (exh. cat., Les Sables d'Olonne, Mus. Abbaye Sainte-Croix, 1977)
D. Abadie: Bissière: Ides et calendes (Neuchâtel, 1986)
Bissière, 1886–1964 (exh. cat. by P. Le Nouène, Paris, Mus. A. Mod. Ville Paris; Dijon, Mus. B.-A.; Calais, Mus. B.-A.; 1986–7)

SARAH WILSON

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