1924 Born in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris. The Deux family lived in the basement of a building close to the Seine that was often flooded. These living conditions formed the biographical core around in which the artist would develop his work as a future writer and artist.
1942 Deux worked in a factory as an electrician and night guard.
1943 Deux becomes part of the FTP group to resist against the factory. And then joined the Maquis du Doubs.
1945 Deux becomes part of the FTP group to resist against the factory. And then joined the Maquis du Doubs.
1947 Returned to France. Installation in Marseille. Worked in an important library that belonged to the family of his wife.
– « Fred Deux, L’alter ego », (Centre Pompidou), 2004
– « Traits d’Union », (Ateliers des Brisants, coll. Alain Margaron), 2007« Fred Deux au XXIe siècle », (Alain Margaron Editeur), 2010
– « Fred Deux, Dessins bruissants, pensées murmurées », (Alain Margaron Editeur), 2013
– « Fred Deux, Le livre de la vie », (édition Panorama Museum), 2014
– « Fred Deux, Le dessin à corps perdu », (édition Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roch), 2014
– « Fred Deux, Le For intérieur », (co-édition Vevey, Musée Jenisch / Paris, Les Cahiers dessinés), 2015
Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Musée des beaux-arts, Lyon
Bibliothèque nationale, Paris
Centre national d’art contemporain, Paris
Musée Cantini, Marseille
Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roch, Issoudun
Musée de Bochum, Allemagne
Musée Panorama, Allemagne
Musée Jenisch, Vevey, Suisse
Died in September 2015 at 91. Fred Deux consecrated his 65 years of experience attentive to the living, and transposing his life on his drawing board.
Designer, but also author of major written and oral works, among which is “Gana” often re-edited and still recommended for reading in important magazines, “Perruque”…, some remarkable poetry, very long hours of recordings, he is beginning to be recognized as one of the great French artists of the second half of the 20th Century, a complete artist whose writings nourish his drawings and vice versa.
One-man shows in museums accompanied with publications multiply: in Paris at the National Gallery of Modern Art, the Pompidou Center in 2004, and at the Saint Pierre Hall in 2009. At the Jenisch museum in Vevay,Switzerland in Spring 2015; at the Panorama Museum in Germany from June to October 2014. For his 90 years, the Issoudun Museum devoted the entire year 2014 to three exhibits besides the permanent collection which is reserved to him and his wife, Cecile Reims. The Beaux Arts Museum in Lyon plans a major retrospective in 2017.
Fred Deux described his movement at the end of the 1950’s in “Gana”. He has never deviated from his line since, forcefully, sometimes violently reacting to any attempt of outside interference with his creation, even from his close entourage. In 1954 he slammed the door on a surrealist group in spite of all the advantages he could have found there. He left when Matta and Brauner – his first buyers – proposed working together. He never hesitated separating himself from dealers who misunderstood him.
Immerged in his period, close to poets and contemporary thinkers, he read attentively, concerned by public debate, attentive to others (he regularly received visitors) he still preferred the calm of his homes in the Jura and the Berry areas to the agitation of Paris.
He always worked with great discipline, as long as his health allowed him to work seven days a week and many hours a day, waking often at night to see “if the drawing in progress was content” a drawing he often dreamed about.
His drawings have exceptional touch, like the history of painting, revealing little but never showing off. He was wary of his exceptional talent, not hesitating at the end of the 1960’s to change from one paper to a rough Japanese paper to “break his hand”.
His hand was always searching into the most intimate reaches of his conscience, in a state of awakened dreams. His childhood memories, the feeling of the body, the life of organs, the mysteries of birth and fertility, like that of death, led his pencil, or pen as close as possible to the indescribable. His faults, his pain, his anguish is transformed into quests.
We have centered our exhibition around his important auto-portraits from the beginning of the 1980’s. They are the quintessence of his long meditation over 60 years about the mysteries of life. We have logically chosen as its title “the Book of Life”. It is the same as the exhibition we co-organized in 2014 with the Panorama Museum.
“When drawing becomes such an existential effort, one hopes that spectators will accord an attentive eye rather than a simple glance, an esthetic reading or a semiotic analysis.
The eye penetrates black filaments with their lines and convolutions, loses itself in white pages, constantly coming up against the cleavage of the being, with what this magic word evokes of dissociation and splitting in two. The emptiness designed by the line sends our own emptiness to a quest for a luminous center” writes Pierre Gaudibert for the exhibition of auto-portraits in 1982 at the Grenoble Museum.
Most of the drawings since the 1980’s are accompanied by poems in prose concerning the doubts and questions about the times they were produced.
To the questions “Do you think there is life after death?” He answered one day, “It’s my last drawing that will tell”. The drawing that goes beyond words, unutterable.
Fred and I shared a profound friendship. I began collecting his works long before the opening of our gallery. We met in 1999, the start of an important step in the life of the gallery. Very quickly Fred Deux and Cecile hired me for the long term for all of his work. A major responsibility, which I measure all the weight of the risk.
For an artist, a close friend, a word is necessary: resistant. During the war, like others, but also against a serious depression in the 1970’s; Resistant to sickness and the horrible experience of hospitals, in February 2011, barely conscious, he knew how to use humor against the idiocy of a neurologist who condemned him to tranquilizers, and three weeks after an operation, he signed, at 88, a magnificent drawing “Fred Deux the Hardy”, and another: “I wanted to stop but couldn’t”. Against advancing death which he managed to keep at a distance for a long time, he defied all medical prognostics, and lived, making a smooth transition helped by the attentive affection of Cecile, and the music of his favorite composed, Bach.
This energy and courage, this liberty to jump over obstacles allowed him to transpose in many of his drawings, including the most recent ones, the power of life, liberating in itself.
From 20 September 2017 to 8 January 2018, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon devoted a major retrospective to Fred Deux. More infos.
Reproductions of some of the 192 works in the Centre Pompidou’s collections:
Otage, 1964 / Kenose, 1981 / Ce lieu de ma naissance, 1997 / L’enveloppe, l’écorce, 1980 / Autoportrait illisible un temps, 1981 / La transmission par le dessin, 2003 / Du dessin pour le vocable, 1997 / A l’ombre du mythe, 1992 / La confession négative, 1998 / Je dessine lentement, 1978