Jean Fautrier was born on 16 May 1898, in Paris, France. Following the death of his father and grandmother in 1908, Fautrier moved to London with his mother. In 1912, he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Art, which he subsequently left to join the Slade School of Fine Art. Whilst in London, Fautrier particularly admired the work of J.M.W. Turner. In 1917, Fautrier returned to France and was drafted into the French army, from whom he was discharged in 1921 having moved to Tyrol, Austria.


Fautrier returned to Paris in 1922, where he began to exhibit regularly in the Salons. His first solo exhibition was held at Galerie Visconti, Paris, in 1924. Fautrier remained in Paris for much of 1920s, where his dark, brooding, figurative works were often exhibited alongside the Parisian avant-garde by Léopold Zborowski and Paul Guillaume. In contrast, the 1930s was defined by a geographic restlessness for Fautrier, travelling around France frequently but failing to settle. In the 1940s, Fautrier devised his materialist haute pâte technique, which would capture the attention of the artistic milieu in Paris with the exhibition of his Otages at the Galerie René Drouin in 1945. In 1950, Fautrier devised a method of combining elements of painting and printing with Jeanine Aeply, these were exhibited as the Originaux multiples later that year.


Throughout the 1950s, Fautrier’s reputation grew in Paris, whilst he also travelled to Italy, Holland, Belgium, Scotland, Spain and the United States; he had his first solo exhibition in New York at the Alexander Iolas Gallery (1952). In the final years of his life, he received recognition for his artistic contributions, winning the international grand prize at the XXX Venice Biennale (1960) and the 7th Tokyo Biennial (1961). In 1964, Fautrier was the subject of a major retrospective at Musée e d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. He would die later that year on 21 July at Châtenay-Malabry, France.


Fautrier’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Art Institute of Chicago; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Galleria Civica di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM), Turin; Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; the Tate Collection, London.