While studying on a scholarship at the School of Fine Arts in Bucharest, from 1927 to 1929, Hérold worked exclusively from life, using as his model a prostitute who came to his flat every morning to pose for him. Hérold befriended the great Romanian poet Arghezi and collaborated on the review UNU, founded and edited by Sasa Pana. Upon his arrival in Paris, in 1930, he took various jobs to earn a living—for a while he was a waiter at the restaurant Semiramis, where he served customers dressed in Turkish garb. Although friends with Brauner and Tanguy, who drew him into the surrealist group in 1934, he was ultimately disappointed with the group and withdrew for four years. It was not until 1938 that he fully embraced surrealism and began to do work that expressed its exigencies. The paintings of his first period represent excoriation; he sought to express movement and force by baring the muscular structures, even seeking to render the skinning of things—wishing to flay Heaven and Earth to unveil them. Hérold then evoked a universe undergoing crystallization, with beings resembling crystals amid faceted mineral forms with sharp edges. "I oppose Dali's soft structures with my objects in needle-form, broken glass, sharp blades, crystal, a cutting hand, a dagger cup," he claimed. The Liseuse d'aigle (1942) painted at Lacoste in the Vaucluse, where he spent most of his time, was the starting point for these new experiments, assembled in his exhibition in 1947 at the gallery Cahiers d'Art. In his surrealist work, he made various objects—a grass necktie that required daily watering, a rose that ticktocked, a sword with a dumbbell handle—and was one of the designers of the Marseille playing cards and creator of the Grands Transparents altar at the exhibition, Surrealism in 1947, at Galerie Maeght. He also illustrated numerous books, including Le Soleil placé en abîme (1954) by Francis Ponge and wrote Maltraité de peinture (1957). Hérold moved from his crystal period to painting the elements, such as scattered fragments seeking to merge. His exhibitions in 1957, at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and in 1959, at the Cours d'Ingres in Paris, documented this evolution. In 1960, after making representations of milk, he went through a white period, about which he stated: "White intrigues me. All my painting will be between the white of the blank canvas and this fatal white wherein the work is in danger of foundering." He shifted from white to red in Faire un pas (1961), returned to color again, and finally composed several Fêtes Galantes on a black background, evoking "the moment when the elements get tangled, the moist, the vegetable and the flame, and even the earthy aspect of things."  

Jacques Hérold

Born 1910 in Piatra, Romania; died 1987 in Paris.  

La Rencontre​, Oil on Canvas, 1936