Friday, 9 March 2012

Georges Contaux (1891-1984)

Continuing my series on medal designers with George Contaux - again it is my interest in art deco design that has prompted me to research this artist. I have had a number of small bronze medals bearing his signature and would now like to now more about the man !!

First I will introduce you some of his designs. Both these two studies have an art deco feel, more so with the top one, but both have the simplified, clean stylisation expected from the period.

But who was he ?

Luckily there is some biographical information about him. We do know that he was born in Paris on the 22nd September 1891 and that he was educated at the Ecole Boulle studying sculpture and engraving. He was called up for National Service in 1911 and served during WW1 during which he was wounded, losing 2 fingers on his left hand (1915). After this he was posted to the 2nd Aviation Group as a Sergeant Major during the Italian Campaign until 1918.

Despite the loss of 2 fingers, he when on to literally carve out a successful career as a medal engraver and sculptor. He learnt his trade whilst working with the engraver Pierre Firmin Lasserre (1870-1943) before moving to Vigneux-sur-Seine, where he spent the rest of his lifeworking as an artisan sculptor and engraver of medals, .

The art encyclopaedia Bénézit" records ham as a  sculptor and engraver of medals born in the late 19th century ? He exhibited regularly, including at the Salon des Artistes Français; being awarded an honourable mention in 1921.

He was also commissioned to engrave dies based on other artists work. Two notable examples; are his 1925 medal; L'Intransigeant, an award medal sponsored by the newspaper L'Intransigeant and decorated with a futuristic design after graphics by A. M. Cassandre (Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron 1901-1968). 

The being the pendent jewel called "Les amoureux de Peynet" after the famous french illustrator Raymond Peynet (1908-1999). The front of this jewel is decorated with Peynet's Lovers whilst the back is inscribed with "grave par Contaux" - clearly an artist able and prepared to interpret other's designs.

So little information - if you know any more please leave a comment. I will simply let you enjoy his art with a gallery of his medals.

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Internet references include;
Book - French medallic art 1870-1940
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