Whitford Fine Art
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Pierre Roy was a French painter, illustrator and designer. One of the original surrealists and a relative of the famous French writer Jules Vernes, Roy may be considered an immediate father of magic realism or superrealism.
After working briefly in an architect's office in Nantes, he moved to Paris and enrolled at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, which he disliked. He then worked on designs for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 before entering the Ecoles des Langues Orientales to learn Japanese and modern Greek. In 1900-3 he studied at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs under Eugène-Samuel Grasset and then, at the Académie Julian under Jean-Paul Laurens. He first exhibited in 1906 at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and in 1907 and 1908 at the Salon des Indépendants. In 1910 Roy came into contact with the Fauves and the circle of writers around them, such as Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, an association that influenced his style away from its earlier academicism. In 1913, through Alberto Savinio, he met and quickly became a friend of De Chirico who introduced him to André Breton , Louis Aragon, Max Ernst and the other Surrealists. His work was included in the first group exhibition of Surrealist painting at the Galerie Pierre in 1925 and his first one-man exhibition was three years later.
Unusual and "mystère onirique" are the keys to his work which represents, in meticulous detail, recognizable scenes and objects which are taken out of natural context, distorted and combined in fantastic ways as they might be in dreams. Pierre Roy is especially appreciated in the United States where he often exhibited his paintings, including in the Museum of Modern Art's landmark exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism of 1936.
In 1933, Roy was appointed an official painter for the French Navy, a long-sought achievement. He also designed numerous sets for the theatre (Théatre des Champs-Elysées) and the ballet (Covent Garden) and created several covers for Vogue magazine. He exhibited his work regularly until his death in Milan in 1950.