Philippe Halsman, Jean Cocteau, Ricki Soma e Leo Coleman, 1949 Philippe Halsman, Jean Cocteau, Ricki Soma e Leo Coleman, 1949

His life started with both light and darkness, he described his mother as a "madonna swathed in velvet, smothered in diamonds, bedecked with nocturnal plumes, a glittering chestnut tree, spiked with rays of light, tall, abstracted, torn between the last promptings to be good and one last look in the mirror." Cocteau's father, a lawyer and a painter himself, committed suicide whilst Cocteau was young.

Cocteau became a cornerstone of France's arts during the 1920's. A writer, designer, artist and filmmaker - his influences were endless. His novel Les Enfants Terribles, 1929, which was made into a film of the same name in 1950, is one of the most important works of French 20th century literature. Cocteau's filmography also included a poetic, dreamlike adaptation of La Belle et La Bête (Beauty and the Beast.)

A self-conscious artist whose films, art and novels drew on a Greek classicism with a grasp of modernist art, Cocteau described his process as ''when I make a film, it is a sleep in which I am dreaming.''

Each of Cocteau's films explored art, sex, love, and death. A great deal of Cocteau's ouevre focused on lovers, entwined in embraces with a sense of complete oneness, detached from the external world.

Jean Cocteau, Innamorati (The Lovers), original lithograph on Rives paper, 1961, hand signed and numbered 69/120 in pencil. Jean Cocteau, Innamorati (The Lovers), original lithograph on Rives paper, 1961, hand signed and numbered 69/120 in pencil.

''Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.''

As an integral part of the Parisian avant-garde, the city still lives and breathes in the wake of Cocteau's influence. In 2003, forty years on from his death, an 864-page biography has just been published by Gallimard.

An exhibition devoted to Cocteau at the Pompidou Centre had its own 450-page catalogue. The exhibition had 900 objects from Cocteau's wide and varying career in poetry, cinema, music and art. The display featured 950ft of glass cases showing his books and writings, 32 audio-visual installations with film clips, 335 drawings and 300 photographs. Cocteau's talents were endless.

Innamorati (The Lovers) featured will be part of Lots Road Auctions' sale on 26th February, 2017. Check out the full catalogue here.

 

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