Born to Swiss parents, this Parisian first discovered abstraction while drawing nudes at André Lhote’s Academy in 1932: “At the time I observed in the nudes the boundary between shadow and light and this immediately guided me toward the abstract.”  In this way, Vulliamy became a member of the Abstraction-Création group and had his first exhibition in 1933 at Galerie Pierre.  Deeply interested in ethnography, he attended a course at the Musée de l’Homme, while experimenting with copper engraving.  Vulliamy was drawn to the fantastic, and in 1935 grew close to André Breton and his friends, who invited him to participate in the International Exhibition of Surrealism, in 1938, in Paris.  Speaking of his surrealist period, Vulliamy said, “It was a long period of experiments; very hectic, somber, when the technique of primitives preoccupied me, and when I often painted wood with transparent tones and glazes.”  He practiced a violent automatism and sought to express “a certain correlation between the phenomena of erosion and the inner phenomena of the human being.”  His world was close to that of André Masson’s Massacres, for he claimed: “Painting will be convulsive and tortured to attain the sublime through sinusoid, parabolic and astral forms.”  His large painting, Le Cheval de Troie, reproduced in July 1938 in XX Siècle, was considered a major surrealist work.  During the war, Vulliamy belonged to the La Main à la Plume group, which kept the principles of surrealism alive under the German Occupation, and his surrealist paintings, sponsored by Paul Éluard, were shown in 1943 at Galerie Jeanne Bucher.  He also joined the Swiss group Die Alliantiz, wishing to associate surrealism and abstraction, and showed with Gérard Schneider in Basel and Bern.  After 1947, Vulliamy adopted a brightly colored abstraction, retaining some residual surrealist motivation.  As he explained to Jean Grenier, “I do not start from a subject, but from an inner reality.  Sometimes a sensation of light on a rock, on foliage and, more often, on water.  Each time it is a new adventure; a sort of poetic state where everything becomes vibration, creation, and metamorphosis.” 

Gérard Vulliamy

Born 1909 in Paris. 

Le Cheval de Troie, 1937