Gaston Chaissac

1910 - 1964


Avallon, 1910 – La Roche-sur-Yon, 1964

Gaston Chaissac, the youngest of a shoemaker’s four children, was a child of delicate health and sensitivity, who finished his compulsory schooling at the age of thirteen and went through various jobs in his native Avallon, southeast of Paris, before moving with his mother, in 1926, to the neighboring town of Vallapourçon, to live at his sister’s house. Gaston had had little contact with his father, who went to war in 1914 and in 1918 abandoned the family permanently; On the other hand, he was very close to his mother, whose early death in 1931 caused him tremendous depression.In 1935 Chaissac tried to make a living in Paris, without success. But two years later he returned to the capital, staying at his older brother’s house and cultivating the friendship of his neighbor, the artist Otto Freundlich, who encouraged him to paint. The relationship continued by letter when Chaissac was hospitalized when he was diagnosed with a tuberculous illness. In 1942 he was discharged after 4 years of hospitalization and married Camille Guibert. The following year they settled in Boulogne-les-Essarts, where Camille worked as a teacher and Chaissac created and took care of their daughter. In 1944 he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants, where Jean Dubuffet saw his works and was dazzled. In 1948 Camille was transferred to Sainte-Florence-de-l’Oie, and there Chaissac, in almost total isolation, continued to dedicate himself to his works. Weakened by hypertension and asthma, he was unable to enjoy the critical success that accompanied the exhibitions of his production held throughout the 1960s in Paris, Milan and the United States; He died of apoplexy in 1964.