Persona August, 19th 2021 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 328 - Maurice Estève

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 328 – Maurice Estève
Maurice Estève was a master of abstraction. In 1986, the French Poste dedicated a stamp to him while he was still alive. An exceptional event. One of his canvases was depicted on the stamp.
Maurice Estève made colorful work in yellow, red, blue and green in undulating movements. It is somewhat reminiscent of the work of Joan Miro, the Spanish painter from Barcelona. His work can be admired in the Musée Estève in the Hôtel Des Échevins in the French city of Bourges.

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With his grandparents
Maurice Estève (1904-2001) was born in a town of 850 inhabitants, 80 kilometers south of Bourges, Culan. His mother was a seamstress who worked for haute couture and his father was a shoemaker. They were so busy that young Maurice spent most of the time with his grandparents. With them he visits the Louvre Museum in Paris as a 9 year old in 1913 and is completely impressed.

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He starts painting in 1915, in the middle of the First World War. In 1918, the war ended, he became a typographer’s apprentice in Paris and some time later he entered a furniture workshop. In the evenings he has drawing lessons. In 1919 he discovered the paintings of Paul Cézanne. Concerned about his future, his father sent him to Barcelona in 1923 to a scarf and fabric studio where he was allowed to create designs.

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World Exhibition
In 1927 Maurice is back in Paris and attends a workshop at the Académie Colarossi in Montparnasse. That has effect. At first he painted à la the Italian primitives and Cézanne, now he is influenced by surrealism, especially by Giorgio de Chirico. In 1930 he has his first solo exhibition.


The Spanish Civil War incites him to expressionist work. On the advice of Georges Braque, he is asked in 1936 to exhibit in Stockholm with Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris and Fernand Léger. The following year, he participates in the realization of the wall decorations by Robert and Sonia Delaunay for the aviation and railway pavilions at the World Exhibition in Paris.

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Exclusive contract with Louis Carré
World War II begins. Estève has to be in service, but has already left in August 1940. He exhibited several times in 1942, and in 1943 at the Galerie de France together with Jean Bazaine, Léon Gischia, Jean Le Moal, Alfred Manessier, Édouard Pignon and Gustave Singier.

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The big breakthrough came when he signed an exclusive contract with the Louis Carré gallery in 1942. In 1945 the gallery holds an exhibition ‘Bazaine, Estève, Lapicque’. This paves the way for foreign countries, especially Scandinavia. In his work he abandons realism that makes way for intensely colored abstracts. In 1949 he also started making lithographs.

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French National Prize for the Arts
In addition to his painting exhibitions at the Carré gallery, the Villand et Galanis gallery and the Claude Bernard gallery, Estève, who regularly works in Culan during the summer, made numerous lithographs. He works with watercolor, but also with charcoal, monoprint and collage. He designs the stained glass windows for the church of Berlincourt, in the canton of Jura in Switzerland (1957) and tapestries. In 1970 he received the French National Prize for the Arts. Several retrospectives of his work have been organized since 1981.

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The city of Bourges decides to present all the works (more than a hundred) donated by the painter in 1985 at the Hôtel des Échevins. The Hôtel is being restored to become the Estève Museum, opening in 1987.

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Two other donations complete the collection.
In 1995 Estève settled permanently in Culan and remained there until his death. He is buried there in the Prahas cemetery.

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