PARIS - Widely regarded as one of the greatest French ceramists of the latter half of the 20th century, it could have been a very different outcome for Georges Jouve.


Born in Fontenay-sous-Bois in in 1910, Jouve first studied at the École Boulle, then at the Académie Julian and Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

He had begun a career as a stage designer when the Second World War broke out and he was taken prisoner. After several escape attempts, he finally broke free in 1943 and took refuge at his step parents’ place at the Drôme in the South of France with his wife.

Here he began to work with clay, inspired by popular art and tradition, and realised that he had found his vocation in ceramics. In 1945, he moved to Rue de la Tombe-Issoire in Paris, and opened a studio. He worked assiduously and soon began to exhibit pieces both within and outside France, particularly in Barcelona, Milan, Munich, Washington and Zurich.


Jouve had an exceptional career in ceramics. Throughout his life, he constantly reinvented himself as an artist and developed his own style. His explorations of forms and glazes made him one of the greatest French ceramists of the latter half of the 20th century.

He always followed his own particular path, and was never influenced by other artists, establishing himself through an ever-evolving body of work. He began with traditional pieces that were both ideological and religious, then in the 1950s began intensively simplifying forms and glazes, paring them down to the essential, and encouraging viewers to see the medium in a new way. He avoided symmetry, saying that his creations expressed "the moving, dynamic reality of life in a stable form." Although blacks and whites were dominant in his work, various coloured glazes imbued his pieces with sophistication and extreme refinement.

In 1954, he left Paris to live in Aix-en-Provence, where he continued to work until his death in 1964.

A selection of his works are included in the Design auction in Paris on 24 May.