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Jean Charlot

(1898 - 1979)

Jean Charlot studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris before serving in the French Army during World War I. His mother, with her French, Mexican and Jewish lineage, introduced him to Mexico in 1920, where he sketched for archeologists excavating Mayan ruins. He became enthused with his Mexican heritage, as evident in a series of mural paintings in Mexico City assisting Diego Rivera and other members of the Syndicate of Painters and Sculptors. Charlot is credited by Rivera for reviving and refining the fresco technique that he used. After working from 1929 with lithography printer George Miller in New York, Charlot began a lifetime collaboration in 1933 with Lynton R. Kistler, master lithography printer in Los Angeles, reputedly making the first stone-drawn color lithographs in the United States. Charlot devoted himself to themes of family and the working class, revealing the universality of human nature.

An invitation to create a fresco at the University of Hawai, Manoa, brought Charlot to Honolulu in 1949 where he painted Relation of Man and Nature in Old Hawai'i (10' x 29') on the first floor of the administration building, Bachman Hall. He accepted a position as professor of art at the University, and Hawai'i became the Charlot family's permanent home. From 1949 to n1979 Charlot created almost six hundred easel paintings, several hundred prints, and thirty-six works of art in public places in fresco, ceramic tile, and sculpture. The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin published approximately 160 articles of art criticism written by Charlot from 1952-71, and he also wrote a score of art books. He retired from the University of Hawai'i as Senior Professor Emeritus in 1966.