Daughter of an agricultural engineer, who died when she was four, Lamba studied at the École de l'Union des Arts Décoratifs from 1926 to 1929, and lived in Paris doing minor interior decoration jobs before becoming one of the aquatic dancers at the swimming pool cabaret Le Coliséum, on the Boulevard de Rochechouart. Between performances, she frequented the café Le Cyrano, where she and André Breton met. They were married on August 14,1934, with Paul Éluard and Giacometti serving as best men. Lamba painted a portrait of Breton, created her Rêve-Objet, according to his instructions, participated in several surrealist exhibitions, and drew two of the figures for the Marseille deck of playing cards. André Breton encouraged her early efforts and, upon receiving one of her watercolors, advised he in a letter dated September 26, 1939, to launch herself "more incautiously into this mental adventure." On April 11,1940, after seeing more of her work, he counseled, "I feel sure that if you strive a bit you will make magnificent work. But you must strive—you are on the right track." These euphemisms indicate that he still felt that her quest was irresolute. Lamba cared very little for inventions that exposed the "interior model." While living in New York, Lamba left Breton, in the fall of 1943, to marry the sculptor David Hare, who published the review VVV. They moved to Roxbury, Connecticut, where he built her a studio. It was there that she prepared for her first solo exhibition at the Norlyst Gallery in New York. At the time, she commented that automatism was, "the key to communication" in her painting. On her return to Paris in 1947, she showed sixteen canvases at Galerie Pierre. Later she wrote, "Non-surrealist painting since 1948". Indeed, after divorcing David Hare, she settled back in France and her paintings drew their inspiration from what she saw from her studio on Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle or on her walks during summers in the Var. Her final exhibition, in 1967 at the Musée Picasso in Antibes, was presented by Yves Bonnefoy, who emphatically praised her landscapes of Simiane, in Provence. The two-part video by Fabrice Maze, L'Amour Fou d'André Breton; La Peinture jusqu'au bout du ciel (Grenoble, Seven Doc, 2004), describes Lamba's evolution, concluding that her work was typically surrealist.  

Jacqueline Lamba

Born 1910 in Saint-Mandé, France; died 1993 in Rochecorbon, France.  

Rogi André, Jacqueline Lamba dans un aquarium I, ​Photograph, 1934