Private Collection, France
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Christian Bérard, February - April 1950, n. 42
Kochno, B., Christian Bérard, Paris, 1987, no. 87, illus. p. 129
Bérard was a painter and stage designer. He studied at the Académie Ranson from 1920 under Vuillard and Denis and first exhibited at the Galerie Druet in 1924 as part of the group orchestrated by the critic Waldemar George. These ‘Neo-Romantics’ or ‘Neo-Humanists’ included Eugene Berman and Pavel Tchelitchew; at this point their eclectic, self-consciously traditional art offered an important alternative to modernism.
Bérard was prolific and became a fashion illustrator for Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Nina Ricci. He was also a renowned designer for the stage, creating sets and costumes for theater and ballet as well as the 1946 film version of La Belle et la Bête by Jean Cocteau. Bérard died suddenly from a heart attack on 11 February 1949 on the stage of the Théâtre Marigny. Cocteau dedicated his film Orphée (1950) to him. Paintings by Bérard are in the collection of MOMA, New York.
Olivier Larronde was a poet. At the time of his death in 1965, he had only published two poetic collections, Les Barricades mystérieuses (1946) and Rien voilà l'ordre (1959); his third collection L'Arbre à lettres would only appear in print in 1966. Yet as a young man he was praised as one of the great post-war poetic voices. Alberto Giacometti made 30 drawings for the illustration of Rien voilà l’ordre. In 1945 Larronde met Jean-Pierre Lacloche, a wealthy editor, and soon they became inseparable. The precocious and brilliant poet depended on Lacloche who was both his muse and his protector. The sighting of the young Lacloche in London in 1945 with his inseparable companion Larronde seems to have been a delight to the war-weary. Both of them were of incomparable beauty - Lacloche, dark and grave, Larronde, cherubic, blond and full of life. Whimsical and elegant, the couple were friends with Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet, leading a glamorous life surrounded by artists such as Christian Bérard and Henri Cartier Bresson1. Larronde suffered from epilepsy and died at the age of 38.
1 A portrait photograph of Bérard by Cartier Bresson is in the Metropolitian Museum, New York.