Camille Bryen

Composition , 1964
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated lower right
Countersigned and numbered 389 on the back
Dimensions: 100 x 81cm
With frame: 121 x 103 cm

Camille Bryen is a poet of signs, words and color. He was one of the initiators of lyrical abstraction. Called the “father of tachisme”, he wanted to dissolve form in favor of non-form. Poet attached to the Dadaist movement, it was only after the war that he gave free rein to his graphic activity.

The first years, his painting is tormented with colors. From the 1960s, his language became more subtle. Pale colors, more nuanced, are placed in discrete touches. His paintings form mosaics of luminous and colorful touches, punctuated by fragmented lines.

If his work is delicate and measured, his words, protesting and virulent. In 1926, he was in Paris. His friends say that it was André Breton who, on his return from a surrealist congress, brought him back in his luggage.

It was as a poet that he joined the group of surrealists and the circles of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse. He meets Wols and actively participates in the discovery of automatic expressions. He tries to achieve an autonomous language, no longer controlled by rational thought but by the psyche. He has the will, following the example of the Dada movement, to make a clean sweep of all ideological or aesthetic constraints of the pre-war period.

He exhibited at the Salon des “Surindépendants” from 1935 to 1938. In 1947, he organized with Matthieu exhibitions which brought together Arp, Atlan, Hartung, Wols, Picabia… He exhibited at the Salons des Réalités Nouvelles, then regularly at the Salon de Mai. Four private exhibitions took place in Paris from 1952 to 1956 then in Milan and Vienna.

Major retrospectives of his work took place at the Museum of Le Havre in 1970, at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris in 1973 and finally in 1997 at the Museum of Nantes, his hometown. It is present in all major events in France and abroad.

Museums :

• In Paris: Center Pompidou (national museum of modern art)

• Internationally: New York (Museum of Modern Art), Oslo (Nasjonasgal), Rome (National Gallery of Modern Art), Jerusalem, Locarno (Gubelkian Fund), Basel (Kunst museum), Skopje, Wiesbaden.

• In France: Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon, Dunkirk, Grenoble, Lille, Marseille, Morlaix, Rennes, Les Sables d’Olonne, Saint Etienne, Strasbourg, Tourcoing. An entire room is dedicated to him at the Museum of Fine Arts in Le Havre.

Origin :

• Argos Gallery, Nantes, n°1372, 1964, coll. go.


• Reproduced in the catalog raisonné Jacqueline Boutet-Loyer (No. 389 not reproduced)


“L’atelier de Bryen 67”, Galerie Argos, Nantes, October 14 to November 8, 1967

• “Triade 68”, Convention Center, Saint-Jean-de-Monts, summer 1968