Personal Accounts

Wishing to devote his time entirely to his work, Alfred Latour wrote as little as possible and refused to be interviewed. The man and his works are, however, revealed to us through numerous personal accounts:

2015 Alfred Latour, A Complete Artist
“In the course of a lifetime, we naturally come across many of our own kind, most of whom are still alive. Each, to varying degrees, presents us with questions. Among those who have left the best and most memorable impressions on me, I can count artists, singers, publishers, ordinary folk, politicians, a few people of heroic stature, one or two Nobel Prize winners, lots of friends (masculine) and rather fewer friends (feminine). In short, as one of those friends said — Pierre Versins, not to mention his name — ‘It takes all sorts to make a world. What would it take to make a number of them?’ But the fact is that, without ever realizing it, we live in a multitude of worlds at once and without that ever causing us the slightest problem.”
Lire la suite (in French)

Richard Aeschlimann, Chexbres, 20 March 2015

2004  On the occasion of the establishment of the Alfred Latour Foundation in Fribourg, Switzerland. Henri Paillard, journalist with The Figaro, wrote an article entitled, “Switzerland Honours a Forgotten Artist”.

“For what reason has he fallen into such relative oblivion? Without doubt because of his independence with regard to the various movements that animated the artistic world in the twentieth century, because of his rejection of all schools and pre-determined pathways…”

Henri Paillard, Le Figaro, 29 December 2004

2004  Retrospective exhibition at Fontenay Abbey. Excerpts from the Visitor’s Book:
“It is a very interesting exposition! I am happy to have seen it.” (sculptor, Argentina,)
“The art of simplification. Magnificent!” (Holland)
“Beautiful in simplicity.” (USA)
“Latour’s interpretation of the world around him represented in such simple lines, in my opinion, is really very clever and captures the essence of the scenes that he is trying to represent.”
“What joy in the colours! What diversity! What mastery!”
“A flood of colour and joy. For the first time in my life, I have come across what I really love in painting. Bravo!”

2003  A contemporary painter who had benefited from Latour’s advice:

“He was a man both demanding and considerate, and he had an open mind […]. He was modest and reserved and yet quite decided in his choices. When I showed him my sketches, he declared them to be, ‘overloaded’ After having, as a result, rendered the sketch of an olive tree more stylized, stripping it back to the essential, he declared it, ‘still too loaded… but don’t be angry.’ He went to fetch a box. ‘Look,’ he said. ‘I have two sketches, one is by Picasso, the other is yours. You’ll understand later that I have trusted you…’ We went back to Eygalières and had agreed to further meetings, but fate intervened.”
Henri Ferrier, letter to Jean Latour, 27 October 2003

1978  Retrospective exhibition organized by the Ziem Museum in Martigues:

“The man was elegance personified, meticulous but not showy. His workshop was scrupulously clean and tidy.”
Louis Evrard, exhibition brochure

1978  Retrospective exhibition organized by the Ziem Museum in Martigues:

“In the drawings and paintings of his last years, classical order gave way somewhat to lyricism. Once he had mastered his technique with respect to his absolute concision, Latour allowed his subjectivity a voice — right up to this Dead Tree, the black, tragic work that was the last picture he produced before death took him.”
Joëlle Pijaudier-Cabot, exhibition brochure

1962  Personal exhibition at the Garibaldi Gallery in Marseille:

“The extreme simplicity of line generates a prodigious evocative power, which sometimes reminds one of the mediaeval masters of the Japanese print, such as Hokusai and his followers… His idea of nature is expressed with a moving economy of means, and every one of his works would appear to be a window to his soul — breathing an extraordinary atmosphere of calm, light and youthfulness.”

J. Samat, Le Méridional, 15 December 1962

“Alfred Latour’s painting is that of the “moment of truth”. His art is also a geometry of space. The straight line — the draughtsman’s golden rule — is also the mark of the straightness of his character, of his probity.”

Camille Rouvier, Le Provençal, 19 December 1962

1962  Personal exhibition at The Calade Gallery in Avignon:

“Alfred Latour’s colours greet you with a fanfare […] Despite the intentional starkness and rigidity of their lines, all the exhibited works afford one an impression of animate intensity and silent poetry.”

Francis Carlier, Le Dauphiné Libéré, 1 April 1962

“Alfred Latour is the author of a considerable body of work, yet he has only rarely exhibited as a painter. It is for this reason that many connoisseurs are only now discovering his ability in this domain. In all his work, Latour, strays from the beaten path to express a singular personality. In his personal life, his principle characteristic is a modesty commensurate with his enormous talent.”
Le Méridional – La France, 22 April 1962

1953  Then residing in Eygalières, Latour returns to painting in oils:

“Latour focuses on what is essential, stripping his subject of everything superfluous and merely ornamental. So far is the approach not contrary to the enjoyment of the heart and the eye, it actually leads inevitably to it.”
Henri Jonquières, “Alfred Latour, peintre typographe”, Caractère, magazine, special Christmas edition, 1953

1953  Personal exhibition at the Carmine Gallery in Paris:

“To go out naked and unadorned is no easy thing. Van Gogh understood this when he wrote, ‘the true and the essential: that is the most difficult thing!’”
Frank Elgar, Carrefou, “Les arts”, magazine, March 1953

1937  Exhibition of watercolours at the Greatorex Gallery in London:

“Je ne prendrais qu’un seul exemple, le tableau intitulé La Chapelle Saint-Sixte. Pour moi, cette scène, par sa simplicité, sa tranquillité, sa tristesse, sa majesté, est aussi belle et aussi émouvante, aussi insondable qu’une sonate de Beethoven. Si un artiste a jamais réussi à peindre le silence, c’est bien Alfred Latour…”
J. Lewis May, Exhibition catalogue (traduit de l’anglais)

1933  Journey to Morocco Voyage and exhibition in Fez:

“One is amazed how, putting aside all the facile temptations of the picturesque and the exotic, the traveller has managed to grasp what is essential in such a short space of time. In the land of the mirage and the symbol, here is the vision of an understanding as poignant as it is sincere; here is the Orient captured in all its profundity.”
Le Soir Marocain, 29 January 1933

1929  Alfred Latour makes his reputation in the world of art books:

“Latour’s work is a perpetual quest. […] And each of his new inventions bears witness […] to his aim of achieving perfection by means of an ever-more rigorous simplicity […].
Louis Martin-Chauffier, “Alfred Latour, rénovateur de la décoration du livre”, Plaisir de bibliophile, 1929

1928  Alfred Latour sets up house in Montparnasse, at 26 rue du Départ:

“In his stark, high-ceilinged workshop, there is something of that family of Benedictines of the arts that I very much approve of and that I happily spend time with, for they are the professors of order and method, where, despite the apparent severity of their disciplines, idealism and enthusiasm are not glacial things.”
Pascal Forthuny, “Le graveur Alfred Latour”, Arts et métiers graphiques, nº 7, 1928

1928  Alfred Latour produces the decoration for a special edition of André Gide’s Le Voyage d’Urien: “The refined vignettes, abstract images evoking motifs such as ships, clouds, waves and mountains. […] In short a very modern use of colour.”
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