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Franck Innocent
(1912 - 1983)

Franck Innocent (1912-1983)

Franck Innocent was born on November 20th 1912 at Sahurs. He worked with the painter Marcel COUCHAUX, who was a student of Delatre too and a friend of Monet and Picasso and the leader of Ecole de Rouen.

He was born on November 20th 1912, at Sahurs, a village near Rouen on the bank of the river Seine at about 15 km.

As an only child, he was adored by his mother; he was sometimes dissipated, authoritarian, often mischievous. He distinguished himself especially in his innate taste for drawing.

His family left Sahurs for Sotteville-les-Rouen where Franck Innocent lived afterward as his parents were worrying for his future, they made him further his education at the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce: this didn’t prevent him from taking painting lessons with Marcel Couchaux, a painter of Rouen School.

Couchaux passed down to him his rigor, his passion of nature and his taste for country sceneries. They both used to go away on bicycles most often to farms where they had to throw grains at hens and turkeys to attract and paint them.

Franck Innocent once confessed to me that he found it hard to come back to the same subject, as he preferred to paint with more spontaneity.

It was in 1963 that his first exhibition took place at the “Galerie Legrip” in Rouen; in 1953 at Honfleur, he met André Warnod, an influent art critic at Le Figaro, and thanks to him Franck Innocent’s exhibition in Paris was a success.

Sticken by the war in 1940, unable to find any artist’s materials for painting he had to make many works on paper and even was resigned to using the bed sheets of the house.

After 1945 colour disappeared completely from his works: the expression became powerful, conveying some profound inner suffering. It was in the early sixties that joie de vivre came back to him along with light and colour. They will not leave him until his death. This will be the most productive period of his life; it will not be necessary for him to carry out any other activity to live on : he is renowned for his talent.

His canvases began with a knife, he then worked the dough with very long brushes. Franck Innocent sometimes confessed that he had not been able to go back to the subject, he preferred to paint with more spontaneity. In 1936 he made his first exhibition in Rouen, Legrip Gallery.

In 1953, he met at Honfleur, Andre Warnod critic of Le Figaro who will support him in Paris. Curiously this career will begin with a group exhibition in the famous gallery Bernheim Jeune Gallery, during all life he made regularly exhibition in Bernheim Jeune Gallery. Bernheim-Jeune gallery is one of the oldest art galleries in Paris represented the most famous Impressionist Artists: Bonnard, Cezanne, Kees van Dongen, Dufy, Innocent, Modigliani, Utrillo. Opened on Rue Laffitte in 1863 by Alexandre Bernheim (1839-1915), a friend of Delacroix, Corot, and Courbet, it changed location a few times before settling on Avenue Matignon. It is still managed by members of the same family.

The gallery promoted realists, Barbizon school paintings and, in 1874, the first impressionist and later post-impressionist painters. Bernheim-Jeune started presenting, selling works of  Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir,  Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Paul Cézanne, Henri-Edmond Cross, Kees van Dongen, Henri Matisse, Le Douanier Rousseau, Raoul Dufy, Maurice de Vlaminck, Amedeo Modigliani, Franck Innocent, Maurice Utrillo, and Georges Dufrénoy.

After 1945 the color disappeared almost completely, the works became essentially graphic, powerful, nostalgic translating deep inner suffering. It is at the beginning of the sixties that the color will return with an appetite to live which will not leave it until its death. With color, he will find the light. This period will be the most productive, it will not be necessary for him to have another activity to live, his talent will be recognized in France, in many European countries, in Japan, Germany, Italy, Belgium in the USA. He died abruptly on April 13, 1983, of a heart attack.

Exhibitions
  • Gallery Legrip, Rouen, 1936, 1938, 1942, 1943, October-November 1946, March-April 1954.
  • Gallery Paul Blauseur, Paris, 1944.
  • Gallery Prigent, Rouen, 1945.
  • Gallery Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, January-February 1953.
  • Legrip Gallery, Rouen, March-April 1954.
  • Marcel Bernheim Gallery, Paris, 1955, 1956.
  • Gallery Saint-Placide, Paris, 1957, 19585, 1960, 1961, 1963.
  • Gallery Cimaise Mazarine, Paris, 1961.
  • Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco, 1968.
  • Gallery Orfèvres, Paris, 1970.
  • Carlton Gallery, Cannes, December 1971 – January 1972.
  • Chantepierre Gallery, Aubonne (Vaud), 1972.
  • Medici Gallery, Paris, 1975.
  • Reyn Gallery, New York, 1976.
  • Gallery Denise Valtat, Paris, 1977.
  • Colette Dubois Gallery, Paris, 1978.
  • Cardo Gallery, Paris, 1980.
  • Retrospective Franck Innocent, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, 1985, 1990, June-July 20016, June 20157.
  • Gallery Patrick Grindel, Rouen, 1986.
  • Paul Gauguin Center, Pont-Aven, June-July 1989.
  • Gallery Tuffier, Les Andelys, 1993.
  • Cultural Center of Revin, 1995.
  • Tribute to Franck Innocent, Yerville Town Hall, 2001.
  • Retrospective Franck Innocent, Departmental Council of Seine-Maritime, Departmental Hotel, Rouen, 2002.
  • Franck Innocent (1912-1983) – 120 canvases, gouaches and watercolors, Charles-Léandre Museum Space, Condé-sur-Noireau, May-June 2009

Museums and public collections:
Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris.
Museum of Fine Arts of Rouen.
Eugène-Boudin Museum of Honfleur.
Dieppe Castle Museum, Dieppe Harbor, Painting.
National Center for Plastic Arts, including deposits:
Sub-prefecture of Cognac, Le Bac Duclair, painting.
Mayor of Pont-de-Beauvoisin, Gladiolas, painting.
Pully Museum of Art (Switzerland).

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