Jean Charlot Biography

Jean Charlot

American

1898-1979

Biography

Jean Charlot was born on October 29, 1868 in Paris, France.  He 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 fascinated 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 as reviving and refining the fresco technique that he used.

Charlot moved to the U.S. and worked for the WPA as a muralist. After working in 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.

In 1947 he headed the art school at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, working with Lawrence Barrett on lithographs. In 1949 he moved to Hawaii where he taught at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Charlot died in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 20, 1979.