Bernard Buffet was born July 10, 1928 in Paris, died on October 4, 1999 in Tourtour (Var – France).
In December 1943, he entered the « Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts » where he studied for two years. After this he worked alone.
In 1946, he had his first painting shown, a self-portrait, at the Salon des Moins de Trente Ans at the Galerie Beaux-Arts.
In 1947, he exhibited « L’homme accoude » at the Salon des Independants and in December of the same year he had his first solo exhibition , at the Art Impressions book shop in Paris, organised by Guy Weelen and Michel Brient. Raymond Cogniat bought, for the Paris National Museum of Modem Art, a painting entitled « Nature morte au poulet ».
In April 1948, the painting « Le Buveur » was exhibited at the « Jeune Peinture exhibition » organised at the Galerie Drouant-David. His painting was bought by Doctor Girardin, who, at his death, left it to the Paris Museum of Modern Art.
At this time Emmanuel David asked him to sign an exclusive contract with his gallery. This contract was then, to be shared by Maurice Garnier.
In June of the same year, he was awarded the Critic’s Prize at the Galerie Saint-Placide in Paris, in conjunction with Lorjou. In July there was an exhibition of his works at this same gallery. In November he exhibited: « La ramandeuse de filet » in the Salon d’Automne. This painting was also bought by Doctor Girardin and was also left to the Paris Museum of Modern Art upon Doctor Girardin’s death.
In 1949, Pierre Descargues published Bernard Buffet at the « Presses Litteraires de France ».
ln 1951, his friend Jean Giono let him a small house in Manosque where he lived for a short while before renting an ancient « bergerie » in Nanse, near Reillanne, 17 kilometres from Manosque. He worked there until 1954.
In 1953, Louis Aragon wrote, in les Lettres Francaises, an article entitled Le Paysage Francais a quatre siecles et Bernard Buffet 24 ans (Four Centuries of French Landscape Painting and the 24 Years Old Bernard Buffet).
In 1955, he was awarded the first prize by the magazine Connaissance des arts, which named the 10 best post-war artists. He met Georges Simenon who became his close friend. He bought property in Domont, near Paris, that he left the following year to live at the « Chateau l’Arc » near Aix-en-Provence, which was to be his main residence until 1964.
In 1958, at the age of 30, the first retrospective of his work was held at Galerie Charpentier.
The same year Pierre Berge published Bernard Buffet at Editions Pierre Cailler, and Georges Hourdin published l’Enfer et le Ciel de Bernard Buffet at Cerf.
December 12,1958 Bernard Buffet married Annabel Schwob at Ramatuelle.
In 1961 he painted a series of paintings depicting the life of Jesus Christ, intended to decorate the Chapelle de Chateau l’Arc. Ten years later, at the request of Monseigneur Pasquale Macci (secretary to Pope Paul VI) he offered these paintings to the Vatican Museum where they remain on permanent exhibition.
His daughter Virginie was born in 1962, and his daughter Danielle in 1963.
In 1964 Maurice Druon published Bernard Buffet at Editions Hachette. Bernard Buffet bought « la Vallee » in Saint-Cast in Britanny where he worked until 1970.
From 1965 to 1971 he lived both in Britanny and Paris.
In May, 1971 he was named « Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur ». In May ,1971 his son Nicolas was born.
November 23, 1973 the Bernard Buffet Museum was inaugurated ; it was founded by Kiichiro Okano, in Surugadaira, Japan.
March 13, 1974 he was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts In 1978, at the request of the Postal Administration, he designed a stamp depicting l’Institut et le Pont des Arts.
In 1980 he got a Manor in Normandy, which he left in 1986 to live at the Domaine de la Baume, near Tourtour in the Haut-Var.
In 1986, Annabel published D’amour et d’eau fraiche at Sylvie Messinger, and Georges Durand, la Divine Comedie de Bernard Buffet at Desclee de Brouwer.
In 1986, « Bernard Buffet » by Yann le Pichon edited by Maurice Garnier, obtained the Elie Faure Award.
December 9, 1988 a large extension to the Bernard Buffet Museum was inaugurated in Japan.
In 1989, Alin Alexis Avila published « Bernard Buffet », edited by Nouvelles Editions Francaises aux Editions Casterman.
Beginning in 1949 yearly exhibitions were held in February at the Galerie Drouant-David, and as of 1957 at the Galerie David and Garnier, and finally at Galerie Maurice Garnier.
The themes for these exhibitions were
1952 – The Passion of Christ
1953 – Landscapes
1954 – Interiors
1955 – Horror of the war
1956 – The Circus
1957 – Paris Landscapes
1958 – Joan of Arc
1959 – New-York Landscapes
1960 – The Birds
1961 – Portraits of Annabel
1962 – The Chapelle de Chateau l’Arc
1963 – Venice Landscapes
1964 – The Bemard Buffet Museum
1965 – The Ecorches
1966 – Nudes
1967 – The Corrida
1968 – The Beaches
1969 – Churches of France
1970 – Castles of the Loire Valley
1971 – Fools
1972 – Daniele and Virginie
1973 – The Boats
1974 – Landscapes
1975 – Landscapes
1976 – Winter Landscapes
1977 – « Dante’s Infemo. »
1978 – The French Revolution
1979 – The Flowers
1980 – Nudes
1981 – Japan
1982 – Self Portraits
1983 – Landscapes
1984 – Small Paintings
1985 – The Automobile
1986 – The Low Countries
1987 – Venice Landscapes
1988 – Sumo and Kabuki
1988 – Natures mortes
1989 – Don Quichotte
1990 – 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea
1990 – Britanny
1991 – Sees of New York
1991 – Remembers of Italy
1992 – Les clowns musiciens
1992 – Saint-Petersbourg
1993 – L’Empire or the pleasurs of the war
1993 – Promenade Provencale
1994 – L’Odyssee
1995 – Les sept peches capitaux
1996 – Pekin
1997 – Regates
1998 – The house
1999 – Mes singes
2000 – The death
Bernard Buffet has had many solo exhibitions world-wide, including New York, Chicago, Palm Beach, Montréal, Vancouver, Tokyo, Osaka, Johannesburg, Londres, Amsterdam, Bruxelles, Berlin, Varsovie, Bâle, Zurich, Genève, Rome, Venise, Milan, Madrid.
The major retrospective exhibitions of his work include :
In 1958 : Galerie Charpentier, Paris
In 1959 : The French Institute, in Berlin
In 1959 : At Knokke le Zoute, in Belgium
In 1963 : The Museum of Modem Art, in Tokyo
In 1969 : Unterlinden Museum in Colmar
In 1977 : At the Gemeentmuseum, Wieger Deurne, Holland
In 1978 : The Postal Museum, Paris
In 1983 : Seedamm Cultural Center, Zurich
In 1985 : Refectoire des Jacobins, Toulouse
In 1987 : The Odakyu Museum, Tokyo
In 1991 : Pouchkine Museum, Moscou
In 1991 : Ermitage Museum, Saint-Petersbourg
In 1991 : Hyundai Museum, Seoul
In 1993 : Gustave Courbet Museum, Ornans
In 1994 : Documenta Halle, Kassel In 1995 : The Odakyu Museum, Tokyo
In 1996 : Beaux-arts Museum, Kaoshiung
Bernard Buffet illustrated the following works :
Les Chants de Maldoror, by Lautreamont, 1952
Recherche de la Purete, by Jean Giono, 1953
La Passion du Christ, 1954
La voix Humaine, by Jean Cocteau, 1957
Les Voyages Fantastiques, by Cyrano de Bergerac, 1958
Saint-Cast, poem by Baudelaire, 1962
Toxique, by Francoise Sagan, 1964
L’Herbier, by Louise de Vilmorin, 1966
Mon Cirque, 1968
Jeux de Dames, poems by Verlaine, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, 1970
L’Enfer, by Dante, 1976
La Revolution Francaise, 1977
Saint-Tropez, by Annabel, 1979
Le Voyage au Japon, by Annabel, 1981
Buffet has created the decor for the following :
Concours des Jeunes Compagnies, in 1948
La Chambre, by Georges Simenon, for the Ballets de Roland Petit in 1955
Le Rendez-vous manque, by Francoise Sagan in 1958
Patron, by Marcel Ayme in 1959
Carmen by Bizet for l’Opera de Marseille in 1962
Le Grand Cirque, by Katchaturian, for Serge Lifar. Opera de Paris Ischtar by Vincent d’lndy, for Serge Lifar
La Valse, de Maurice Ravel pour l’Opera-Comique, 1970