Anselme Boix-Vives (1899-1969)
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Born in Castellon de Plana, Spain, Anselme Boix-Vives was the fifth of nine children in a farming family. He never really attended school and at the age of 18 moved to Paris. There he held a number of odd jobs from fishmonger to newspaper salesman and worked at a fruit stand and a vineyard. By 1922, Boix-Vives opened a few of his own fruit and vegetable stands. Boix-Vives eventually had six children and became a French citizen in 1940.
It was actually his family that initiated his love of art. In fact, Boix-Vives would not officially begin his art career until later in life. At the age of 63, he lost his wife and took up art as a hobby during his retirement. His son, Michel was the first to recognize his talent in his blue and red ball pen drawings. Michel had attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts and actually gave him his first training. However, like many artists, Boix-Vives has drawings and sketches dating back to the 1940’s before he became well known. Boix-Vives was known to say that he was more interested in fulfilling his life with something to do (painting) then whether his paintings were not a success at all.
By 1964, Boix-Vives had his first exhibition where he caught the eye of fellow artist Andre Breton. Over the next few years, hospital stays would keep Boix-Vives from his work, but nonetheless, he would be able to create some 3,000 pieces in his only seven-year career.
Boix-Vives mainly worked in oil and gouache on paper, board or canvas to create his bright and vibrant compositions. The manner in which his art was created had an almost magical appeal—it was said that he painted in his secret garden surrounded by birds and animals. These birds would become subjects for some of his compositions.
While Boix-Vive’s style is hard to define, one can note his love of color and use of space. Always using pure, saturated color, Boix-Vives also believed in using as much of the canvas as possibly. It is said that Boix-Vives found the work of his contemporary Pablo Picasso to be incomplete because of the excess space left in his paintings. This style of Boix-Vives could either hurt or help him because sometimes his canvas looks slightly over decorated with every inch covered, but other times, it seems appropriate and mosaic-like.
Without knowing much about Boix-Vives idealist views, it may be difficult to understanding the theme of his paintings. He was very religious and believed in a utopian society and even wrote humanitarian literature to try to express his ideas. His works are both mystical and joyful, with nature and religious themes. Although a self-taught artist, he gained fame for his works in a very short time, mostly due to the influence and assistance of his son Michele. Most of his known works have been sold or are housed in museums, but because he was so prolific, it cannot be ruled out that one of his works may still be out there today.
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