Michel Nedjar

*1947, France

Michel Nedjar was born in Soisy-sousMontmorency, France, the son of a Jewish tailor from Algeria. His mother, with roots in Poland, successfully fled pogroms there to settle in France in 1923.

Most of his family was murdered in concentration camps. Even as a child, Michel Nedjar loved to draw. He fashioned dolls from scraps of fabric, even though he was forbidden from playing with dolls during his childhood. He left school at 14 to take up an apprenticeship with a tailor. Alain Resnais’ film “Nuit et Brouillard” opened his eyes to the Holocaust. He met the Mexican filmmaker Téo Hernandez in 1969 and travelled the world with him, including North Africa, India and Mexico. Michel Nedjar created his first “poupées” in 1975 and began experimenting with film. In 1979, Jean Dubuffet purchased some of these dolls for his collection. Today he is one of the last living artists whose work was personally acquired by Jean Dubuffet for his collection. Michel Nedjar claims that his dolls saved his life, having given him an artistic means to come to terms with his past. These dolls have brought him fame. In his work on paper, he chooses to concentrate on a single theme, creating a series around it. Many of the series are named for the Paris neighbourhoods in which he had his studios at the time. He repurposes found materials, such as envelopes and cardboard, and uses the iron and the sewing machine as tools in producing his work. His entirely unique, seemingly archaic design vocabulary brings human figures, faces, masks and animals to life. Michel Nedjar’s work has featured in prominent international solo exhibitions, including those at the museum gugging in 2008, the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme (mahJ) in Paris in 2016 and the LaM in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France in 2017. His work is represented in all of the world’s major private collections of Art Brut. Michel Nedjar is a prominent promoter of Art Brut. In response to the bestowal of Jean Dubuffet’s collection to Switzerland, he – alongside the artists Madeleine Lommel and Claire Teller – created the French Collection L’Aracine, which has been housed in the annex for Art Brut at the LaM in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France since 2009. Michel Nedjar lives and works in Paris.

 

Selected works