Erik Desmazières

French (b.1948)
Erik Desmazières’ prints and drawings are fascinating explorations of places both real and imagined. In the artist’s hand, cities, battles, libraries, and various curiosities are all rendered with virtuosity worthy of the Old Masters but encompassing a contemporary cerebral twist. With the superb draftsmanship of Dürer, vision evocative of Piranesi, and a healthy dose of fantasy elements, Desmazières captures on paper intricately complex and dreamlike spaces and scenes. Born in Rabat, Morocco in 1948 to a French diplomat, Erik Desmazières has been described as “arguably the finest French printmaker of his generation.” Soon after graduating from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris in 1971, he decided to pursue a childhood fascination with drawing. At the suggestion of an artist friend, Desmazières enrolled at the Cours du Soir de la Ville de Paris to study printmaking. Looking through Desmazières’ prints reveals his interest in a variety of themes: cities and buildings, battles and warriors, libraries and letters, wonder chambers and curiosities, comedies and characters. With each, the artist envisions an imaginary world unto itself. Using an idiosyncratic visual language that draws from the past while looking towards the future, Desmazières creates scenes of civilizations and eras that never were, but certainly feel as though they could have been. Even in his prints depicting real world locations, such as his Amsterdam Suite, the artist has the uncanny ability to make the scene feel both familiar and utterly foreign. Desmazières has exhibited extensively, including international solo shows in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Rome, Zurich, Osaka, and Tokyo; and in the U.S., Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York, among others. His most recent show was a major retrospective at the Museé de l’Hospice Comtesse in Lille, France. Desmazières’ works are found in many prominent institutions including the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montréal, the Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City, and the Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco. Desmaziéres has also received several artistic distinctions, including the prestigious Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris. He was elected into the Société des Peintres-Graveurs Français, where he has served as President since 2006. In 2009 he was inducted into the Académie des Beaux-Arts de l’Institut de France. The artist currently lives and works in Paris, France.