French literature > Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau (July 5, 1889 - October 11, 1963) was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, and filmmaker.
Despite his achievements in virtually all literary and artistic fields, Cocteau insisted that he was primarily a poet and that all his work was poetry. As a leading member of the surrealist movement, he had great influence on the work of others, including the group of composer friends in Montparnasse known as Les Six.
On the sunny afternoon of August 12, 1916, Pablo Picasso and his new girlfriend, the fashion model Pquerette, Max Jacob, Ortiz de Zarate, Marie Vassilieff, Henri-Pierre Roché, Moise Kisling, Amedeo Modigliani and the critic André Salmon were all sitting together outside the café La Rotonde in Montparnasse. Their friend, Cocteau, recorded for posterity this extraordinary gathering of talent in a series of 21 photographs showing such characters as a dapper Picasso dressed à l'Anglais with a flat cap, cane and briar pipe. Girlfriend, Pquerette wore a long elegant dress and a very silly hat while Max Jacob at least looked as though he was sober and respectable and the tiny Marie Vassilieff appeared the formidable little lady she was.
In 1940 Le Bel Indifferent, Cocteau's play written for and starring Edith Piaf, was enormously successful. He also worked with Picasso on several projects and was friends with most of the European art community. He struggled with opium addiction for most of his adult life and was openly gay, though he had at least one significant affair with a woman, Princess Natalie Paley (see below). He published a considerable amount of work criticising homophobia. Cocteau's films, the bulk of which he both wrote and directed, were particularly important in introducing surrealism into French cinema.
During his life Jean Cocteau was commander of the Legion of Honor, Member of the Mallarmé Academy, German Academy (Berlin), American Academy, Mark Twain (U.S.A) Academy, Honorary President of the Cannes film festival, Honorary President of the France-Hungary Association and President of the jazz Academy and of the Academy of the Disc.
In the 1930s, Cocteau had an affair with Princess Natalie Paley, the beautiful daughter of a Romanov grand duke and herself a major fashion-plate, sometime actress, model, and former wife of couturier Lucien Lelong. She became pregnant. To Cocteau's distress and Paley's lifelong regret, the fetus was aborted due to the intervention of Marie-Laure de Noailles, who had loved Cocteau as a young woman and was determined to ruin his new romance. Cocteau's most lasting relationship was with the handsome French actor Jean Marais, whom he discovered and cast in "Beauty and the Beast."
Filmography, as director:
- Le testament d'Orphée (1960)
- La villa Santo-Sospir (1952)
- Coriolan (1950)
- Orphée (1949)
- Les parents terribles (1948)
- L'aigle à deux têtes (1947)
- La belle et la bête (1946)
- Le sang d'un poète (1930)
- Jean Cocteau fait du cinéma (1925)
- External links
- About Cocteau :
- Cocteau by Jean-Pierre ROSNAY
- Graphic arts :
- fr en : http://www.cocteau-art.com/
- Bibliography :