Thursday, October 26th 2023
An industrious artist, Jean Cocteau's protean body of work encompasses literature, theater, cinema, painting and drawing. If his creativity was expressed in many ways, Cocteau's speed of execution was a constant. He wrote Les Enfants terribles in seventeen days and Les Parents terribles in only eight days. His drawings were made just as fast: a few strokes and dots in pencil, ink or chalk are enough to show the artist's virtuosity and freedom.
Admired by the Parisian elite, Cocteau was also elected to the Académie Française in 1955, where he was assigned seat number 31. A year later, in May 1956, he received an honorary doctorate degree from Oxford University. This event greatly amused him: he described it as "a marvelous medieval ceremony" during which he had to wear a red and yellow robe and a Japan-inspired headdress, as shown on one of the seven Cocteau drawings in the collection of His Excellency André Ross, former Ambassador of France to Asia and Africa and member of the artistic council of the Réunion des musées de France (1988-1994).
Cocteau was also an awesome friend who offered his works to those closest to him - in this case, Laure Albin Guillot, fashion photographer (#44) and Hans Brecht, producer and screenwriter (#39).