Jean Michel Atlan (1913-1960)

Though Algerian-born, Jean Michel Atlan is considered a French artist. Atlan moved to Paris in 1930 where he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. Atlan never had academic artistic training, and began to create art as a self-taught painter in 1941.


Astarte, 1958


Also a political activist, Atlan was sadly arrested in 1942 during World War II because he was Jewish. Instead of being shipped to a camp, he instead pleaded insanity and was placed in the Sainte Anne asylum. This confinement set Atlan back and he did not have his first official exhibition until 1944, at the Gallerie Arc en Ciel.


Untitled, 1953


Although Atlan’s initial works are clearly Abstract, he later became affiliated with the Surrealist movement. Through his friendship with fellow artist Asger Jorn, Atlan was also involved in the CoBrA group, a group of post-World War II avant-garde artists. The name CoBrA was invented based on the homelands of the founding members, Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. Among his other accomplishments, Atlan was also a poet, and published a volume of poetry in 1944.


Composition, 1947


While Abstract work is often difficult to authenticate, Atlan’s work has a unique style all its’ own. Bold colors and thick black lines dominate his canvases, making a powerful message to those who look into their meaning. Atlan also created prints and lithographs, and his work is housed in public and private collections world-wide.

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