Jean-Robert Ipousteguy French, 1920-2006

Ipoustéguy was a French sculptor and painter born in 1920 in Dun-sur-Meuse, France. His education was disrupted by World War II, but after the liberation of France he returned to Paris and finished his studies. In the 1950s he turned away from painting and started to work on figurative sculptures. After a trip to Greece and discovering artworks from the 5th Century BC he intensified his focus on nudes and human anatomy.


His artwork had a distinct style, combining abstract elements with the human figure, often in the écorché style of French anatomists. The American writer John Updike once wrote that he "may be France's foremost living sculptor, but he is little known in the United States"or indeed the rest of the world at that time. Updike and other critics noted sharp contrasts between rough and smooth, abstract and realistic, tender and violent, delicate and crude, and many other paired oppositions in his artwork, and his recurrent themes of sex, birth, growth, decay, death, and resurrection.  Ipoustéguy was unafraid to depict emotional intensity in a sometimes controversial way; several of his major commissioned works were rejected, but later installed as planned, or in other locations.


In 1965 he completed Ecbatane, a major polystyrene work portraying Alexander the Great. Six years later he received his first official commission from the Franco-German nuclear physics research centre at Grenoble. In 1978, he had a major retrospective show at the Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques in Paris and one year later at the Kunsthalle, Berlin. In 2001 the Ipousteguy Cultural Centre was opened in his town of birth and he died five years later at the age of 86. Ipoustéguy is widely acknowledged for his frescos and stained glass windows for Saint-Jacques Church, Petit Montrouge, France.