Hervé Télémaque

  • Born 1937 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Hervé Télémaque left his Haitian homeland in 1957 to escape a newly corrupt political scene and moved to New York, where he studied at the Art Students League until 1960. During this time he discovered Abstract Expressionism and the American version of Surrealism, especially as represented by Arshile Gorky (1904–1948). After his graduation, Télémaque then abandoned the United States because of his discomfort with racism, politics, and the now-pervasive Abstract Expressionism. This time he moved to Paris, where he continued his career as an artist and became a leading figure in the French Pop art movement. Most likely inspired by the appearance of American and English pop art at the Venice Biennale in 1964, Télémaque and other French artists developed the Narrative Figuration movement. Led by the art critic Gérard Gassiot-Talabot (1929–2002), Télémaque and other artists mounted the famous group exhibition Mythologies quotidiennes (Everyday Mythologies) (1964), promoting their new painterly approach. By that time Télémaque was also working in collage and assemblage as well as painting, sculpture, and graphic arts. His colorful compositions depict everyday objects within sometimes confusing, sometimes banal scenes, always suggesting his critical understanding and appropriation of pop culture through mass media, advertising, and comics.