Friday, 20 January 2012

Gaston Chaissac 1910-1964

 Gaston Chaissac b. Aug 13 1910- 1964 was an artist and poet. I have been researching his life because he lived for a short while in Villapourçon, a village nearby, here in the Morvan.

 His sister was a post mistress in the village so when his parents split up he moved from Avallon, (Yonne)  reluctantly to Villapourçon with his mother and his younger siblings.  Chaissac had a variety of jobs from the age of 13 working as a 'Sabotier' or clog maker following in his father's clogsteps. He was an out worker for a brushmaker. His painterly skills were employed in the decoration of yokes for a harness maker.  He was musical, a keen accordian player and gave lessons in music theory.  
 There is a place off the main square near the church in Villapourçon that was his workshop. His nickname while here was 'angle droit' or right angle.Apparently he was seen crossing the square and changing directions at sharp right angles.
He was diagnosed with TB while here and often travelled to Paris where he spent some time in a sanatorium recuperating. While in the sanatorium , encouraged by his doctor and his wife he began painting. He is befriended by the artist Otto Freudlich and his wife Jeanne Kloss Kosnick a photographer.  He put on an exhibition in Paris at Galerie Garbo where he was 'discovered' by Robert Delauney. 

Photograph by Doiseau.

Chaissac used all kinds of materials; paper, newspapers, painted layers, magazines, torn posters, packaging,  unused dinner, rusty objects, metal cans, cow dung, cloth, garden tools, stones, shells, coffee pots and wine bottles.

Among his influences were Paul Klee, Picasso and Jean Dubuffet who he knew and who developed early theories about Outsider Art. Chaissac was a prolific letter writer while at Villapourçon and loved to take walks off into the forests alone. He was also a great reader of books.

Another photograph of 'Chaissac' by Robert Doiseau. If you are interested an amazing photographer.  He took street photos of Paris and portriats of Picasso among others. Here we see Chaissac in clogs in what looks like a typically Morvan interior. I think at this time he may have been living in Paris. It looks like he took some of his rustic ways with him or maybe a visit back home. Intriguing to see some of his paintings in this environment. He was influenced by the rustic life with his hand worked imagery, but also must have been deeply influenced with what was happening in Paris.

As a self taught artist he adopted unusual working practices. He never used an easel. He painted vertically and occasionally upside down. He favoured black outlines.
Chaissac's atelier by Jeanne Kosnick Kloss Link to more info.

It's amazing to think there was a man from such humble beginnings mixing with and influencing the most considered artist's of his age.


  1. Mmmm looks a rather interesting chap, some great images Jane...

  2. Hi Dolly sorry I was trying to put a background up and I posted this before I had finished. I tried to contextualise it a bit :)

  3. What an interesting character, I like what he made, perhaps you should write a book about him!!