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Henri Clément-Serveau

(1886 - 1972)
Henri Clément-Serveau, also known simply as Clément-Serveau, was born in Paris in 1886. He experienced all the revolutions in art in the 20th Century. His early work was realistic in the tradition of the Postimpressionists but always with elements of cubist forms.

He was a student at l'Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. He began exhibiting in 1905 at the Salon des Indépendants, and later at the Salon des Artistes Français where he won a bronze medal in 1921, silver medal in 1926, and a gold medal in 1929. He exhibited in Greece in 1934 and 1935, and participated in collective exhibitions of French artists in London, United States, Canada and Sweden.

He was a friend of Louis Marcoussis, an early Cubist, and Clément-Serveau's style evolved into neo-Cubism. His style of abstraction and use of color and planes made his paintings unique, with a mosaic-like quality. At first, he paints large decorative compositions full of symbolism. The he much improves thanks to illustration, from a close representation of nature to a world of distorted forms. He paints numerous women’s and children’s portraits. His trip in Greece leads him to landscapes and to a sort of classicism in new subjects taken from everyday life where antiquity and humanity are both present. Back in Villeneuve, he paints many nudes and interior scenes in which he reduces everyday life to an essence, his landscapes become more intimate. In 1945, when he returns to Paris, a move towards abstraction can be noticed: perspective are contracted, there are big flat tints and no forms n his paintings. Around the 1930s-1940s, his art can be qualified as neo-cubism but without its rigor, using on the contrary delicate colors that bring an unequaled charm to his paintings. In his landscapes, masses are outlined with large line. He paints many still lifes with vertical plans and makes clever connections with guitars, violins and cellos.

Clément-Serveau continued to exhibit his paintings, and in 1937 designed murals for the French Pavilion of Tourism at the l'Exhibition Internationellle in Paris. He was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.

Clément-Serveau also designed frescos, mosaics, stained glass, and bank notes for the Banque de France and several other countries. He also illustrated several books, including novels by Colette, Duhamel and Manriac.

His work is well represented in various French museums, at the Musee du Luxembourg, Musee d’Art Moderne, the Musee du Petit-Palais. His work is also in collections in museums in Le Havre, Lille, and in the United States, in Canada and in Greece.