Jean Moiras

(b. 1945, French)


Jean Moiras (pronounced ‘mwhar-áhss’) is a French modernist painter from the School of Paris. His work is classic mid-20th Century modernism – the period after ‘High Modernism’ – when representational subject matter came to be mixed with abstraction in a single work of art. Moiras’ colleagues in style and subject matter include Bernard Cathelin, Foujita, Richard Diebenkorn, and Wayne Thiebaud, to name just a few. A typical painting by Moiras – be it a land- or townscape, relies for its ground plan on a grid, as in the earliest compositions of Mondrian before he became a non-representational painter.* From this grid, spring abstract ‘shadows’ of color and forescapes – with more representational subject matter emerging from the painting’s horizon lines. 

Part of the artist’s earliest education was in French polytechnic studies. Thus, an air of archi- tectonics and engineering can undergird the imagery in a Moiras townscape – crisp marine-dock and industrial-plant imagery all the way to domestic interiors and lovely French townscapes in Moiras’ ‘softer,’ more poetic works. 

The artist’s impasto style combines bravado painterly application with extreme precision. Like Foujita and Manet before him, Moiras makes idiosyncratic use of the value black to create tense outlining that is almost ‘wiry’ or stained-glass-like. Finally, the hallmark of Modernism – its “push-pull” optical dynamics are in full force in Moiras’ work – with color fields and forms proceeding from and receding into the picture plane – a fourth-dimensional aspect of time elapsing in the mind’s eye. This is a truly remarkable jump in dimensionality when one considers that a painting’s ground is a flat, two-dimensional plane! How uncanny that artists from Picasso to Moiras are able to manipulate formal qualities in a flat work of art to cause its components to move and shift before the eyes of the viewer! – a singular triumph in the theoretics of 20th-century Modernism.



L’École des Beaux Arts, Paris, France



Studio Pierre Simonini, décors for theater, cinema, television in the company of the renowned Maurice Béjart, Nikki de St-Phalle, Jean Tinguely, et al.



2007                             Château de Val, Bort-les-Orgues

2006/’92                       Centre d’Art Contemporain, Chamalières

2006/’04/’02/’01           Maison des Comtes, Orcet

2003/’94                       Centre d’Art Contemporain, Issoire

2001                             Centre Culturel, Montpeyroux

                                     Abbaye des Prémontrés

2000                             Espace François Mitterand, Marange Silvange

1996                             Château de Pont-Royal, Mallemort de Provence

1994                             Museum of Art and Archeology, Aurillac

                                    Maison des Industries, Mulhouse

1986                             European Parliament, Strasbourg

1982                             Palais des Congrès, Clermont-Ferrand

1975                             L’École des Beaux Arts, Clermont-Ferrand



2005                             Museum of Contemporary Art, Chamalières

                                     Invité d’honneur des artistes d’Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand

1993/’86                       Museum of Contemporary Art, Chamalières

1990                             Barcelona Biennial of Contemporary Art, Spain, Juried Show

1989                             French-Canadian Salon, Juried Show, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

                                    Museum of Contemporary Art, Issoire

1987                             Palace of the Popes, Avignon, France

1985                             National Society of Fine Arts, Paris



Chancellery of Universities, Clermont-Ferrand

Faculty of Medicine, Clermont-Ferrand

Counsel General of Puy-de-Dôme

French Embassy, San Salvador, El Salvador



Port Camargue, sculpture & mosaic

Offices of the City Council, mosaic, Auvergne

Luitaud Laboratories, Brioude

Mediatech, sculptural fountain, Issoire

School of Architecture, mosaic, Clermont-Ferrand

International Center of Endoscopic Surgery, frescoes, Clermont-Ferrand

Department of Water Purification, mosaic, Le Grau du Roi

Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sculpture and sundial, Clermont-Ferrand



‘Medal of Honor,’ Chamalières, 2006

‘Medal of Honor,’ Clermont-Ferrand, 2005/1981

‘Medal of Honor of the Counsel-General,’ Puy de Dôme, 1996

‘Medal of Honor,’ public installation, Chamalières

‘Silver Medal,’ contemporary art, Art Expo, New York, NY

‘Vulcan Prize,’ public installations, Auvergne/Puy de Dôme

‘Young Artist Prize,’ Denges Exhibition of Art, Lausanne, Switzerland


*The general outline of Modern Art suggests that at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, representation slowly gave way to pure abstraction, only to later – at mid-20th Century – return to representation in hybrid forms, as discussed here.

 all in France, unless otherwise noted