Jean Charlot

Louis Henri Jean Charlot (February 8, 1898 - March 20, 1979) was a French painter and illustrator, active in Mexico and the United States. Charlot was born in Paris. His father, Henri, owned an import-export business and was a Russian-born émigré, albeit one who supported the Bolshevik cause. His mother Anna was herself an artist. His mother's family originated from Mexico City, his grandfather a French-Indian mestizo.

Charlot spent an extensive period of his life living and working in Mexico. In 1921, he and his mother left Europe to settle in Mexico City. He found work as an assistant to the famed artist, Diego Rivera. He also worked as an illustrator during the excavations at Chichen Itza under Sylvanus Morley. In 1942 he painted an oil on canvas mural for the post office at McDonough, Georgia: "Cotton Gin", 4 1/2 by 11 feet.

In 1949, Charlot relocated to Hawaii to become a professor of art at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He continued to live and work there until his death in 1979. Abstract Expressionist Kenneth O. Goehring and Jean's son Martin Charlot were among his students. Charlot came to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1947 to take the job as Head of the Art School of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. He taught fresco painting and worked with Lawrence Barrett on several editions of lithographs. While there he also taught art at The Fountain Valley School, an independent school for boys (at that time), founded in 1930.

Charlot left the Fine Arts Center in 1949 under a cloud of misunderstandings between himself and the Arts Center's Board or Trustees and the Art Center's director, Mitch Wilder. Charlot then went to teach at the University of Hawaii where he stayed for over 30 years, teaching art. During the summer of 1969, Charlot worked with Tony Smith at UH and Smith thanked him by creating a piece in the For... series for Charlot; For J.C. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Hawaii State Art Museum, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Isaacs Art Center (Waimea, Hawaii) and the University of Hawaii at Manoa library are among the public collections having works by Jean Charlot. In 1940 he illustrated the book Tito's Hats (Garden City Publishing), which was written by the future actor Mel Ferrer.

Jean Charlot studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris before serving in the French Army during World War I. His mother, with her French, Mexican and Jewish lineage, introduced him to Mexico in 1920, where he sketched for archeologists excavating Mayan ruins. He became enthused with his Mexican heritage, as evident in a series of mural paintings in Mexico City assisting Diego Rivera and other members of the Syndicate of Painters and Sculptors. Charlot is credited by Rivera for reviving and refining the fresco technique that he used. After working from 1929 with lithography printer George Miller in New York, Charlot began a lifetime collaboration in 1933 with Lynton R. Kistler, master lithography printer in Los Angeles, reputedly making the first stone-drawn color lithographs in the United States. Charlot devoted himself to themes of family and the working class, revealing the universality of human nature.

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