Bernard Charoy was born in 1931 to a family of artisans, in the Lorraine region on the East of France. His creative lineage and the artistic heritage of his region were to have a profound influence on his career.
Before entering boarding school he had already demonstrated his gift as a draftsman. By the age of 11 he was executing drawings and illustrations which showed exceptional talent and - something which is far more rare than technical virtuosity - a keen sense of human sentiment which would continue to mark his later works. His prodigious talent and introspective sensibility are brilliantly illustrated by the self-portrait at the front of the book, which he executed at the age of 17.
Charoy came to Butte Montmartre in 1955 to learn and work with the artists of the Atelier Dejoie. He came with his prodigious talent and a burning desire to learn and work. It was here that he learned the art of lithography and began applying his talents to the more difficult medium oil painting. At the same time he also made the necessary contacts with advertising agencies and newspaper publishers to pursue an artistic career in Paris.
Charoy found the world of advertising too constraining for his artistic talents. As he put it, "I had much more liberty in working with the press than in advertising. " He is more interested in illustrating persons or scenes evoking real emotions than in selling his talent to the world of commercial illustration. By 1961, Charoy's career as an illustrator was firmly established with such important publishers as Edi-Monde and Opera Mundi.
With greater material ease came artistic maturity and the possibility of returning to his original sources of inspiration.
It is in his native Lorraine that Charoy finds his true creative influences.
The region possesses a wealth of artistic treasures that were to have an important impact on the talent and imagination of young Bernard.
His visits to the Lorraine capital of Nancy were veritable artistic pilgrimages.
There is clearly a lineage with the engraver Jacques Callot, who depicted villages and bucolic scenes from the Lorraine countryside. Charoy's early paysages bear a striking resemblance in both theme and sentiment.
The Ecole de Nancy is synonymous with decorative arts and artists in France. It was here that the sensual, organic, curvilinear forms of Art Nouveau came to their fullest expression. Such artist-illustrators as E. Friant, Camille Martin and Mucha made a great impression on Charoy. These influences can easily be felt in the forthright sensuality and unabashed celebration of feminine forms.
Fin du siecle France was highly sophisticated (and largely uncensored) in its artistic expression. Jean Prouve and Camille Martin, both from Nancy, executed a magnificently illustrated - and frankly erotic - cover for Gustave Flaubert's "Salambo". This is at once a masterpiece of bookbinding and one of the most sensual works of illustration to be found anywhere.
Art nouveau and its influences continued to flourish through the early part of this century. In Belle Epoch Paris, handsomely drawn women in various states of undress adorned the walls of cafes and cabarets to advertise everything from cigarettes and absinthes to bicycles and headache powders.
With the advent of World War I, the lively optimism and joyful sensuality of the art of illustration all but disappeared. Only with Bernard Charoy and his generation of artists did French illustration renew with its joyous past.
Painting is a serious medium suited to the expression of profound
sentiment and grand subjects. Illustration is the perfect mode
for the depiction of imagination, reverie and idealised forms
- in this case female form. Charoy's Pin-up girls are fine examples.
Bernard Charoy is a brilliant talented figurative artist, who was continued to follow and develop his creativity instincts for nearly half a century.
Slowly, but sincerely he has built up an international following of admirers and collectors.
To know his work is to be enchanted by the deeply rooted on sincere sentiment that they communicate.
All of those who are lucky enough to know the man personally understand that Charoy is made of these very some warm and generous humour sentiments.
Discussions of painting conventionally centre on consideration of line and form, colour and brush stroke. This is true because these are the material elements that make the plastic construction of a painting.
The paintings of Bernard Charoy somehow elicit something different from conventional art critical parlance. His works are composed of the some plastic elements, of course, but also of flesh, of health, of perfume and of sentiment.
Youth and all that youth signify innocent and somewhat less so, is a perpetual theme and source of inspiration to Charoy.
A portrait must have a universal quality. If the characteristics of a model represented in a painting make no impression on its viewers, the portrait losses its intrinsic value".
Charoy doesn't paint only portraits, and did also some very poetic landscapes.
He paints the regions, he knew as a boy, the rich, humid and poetic countryside of his native LORRAINE, or the moist and mysterious lands of BURGUNDY.
Two possible influences come immediately to mind: Claude Getlee dit le Lorran, who used his talent to render the natural majesty of his enormous region, and, among the greatest draughstmen of all time, Jacques Callot.
However, Charoy is, in large part, a painter of the "eternal feminine" through Charoy is known and, no doubt, will always be remembered first and foremost as a painter of women, there is something more singular, more specific to his oeuvre.
Whether it be the mood and mystery of some secluded landscape, the delight and freshness of an adolescent girl discovering and exhorting in her own femininity, or the cool and tantalising gaze of a beautiful woman in full command of her seductive powers, Charoy's paintings always communicate a feeling.
From the early pen and ink drawings to the ambitious large
scale canvases I am unmistakable sensibility in habits all of
these works, meaning that they could only be signed "Charoy".