Hailing from a modest family, in 1897, André Lhote worked as an apprentice in the workshop of the furniture manufacturer Courbaterre. Between 1898 and 1904, he studied decorative sculpture at the Bordeaux School of Fine Arts, and in 1905 he sought a studio where he could practice painting on a self-taught basis. In his early works there is an appreciable influence of Gauguin, first, and then Cézanne.
In 1907 he left for Paris and exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants and the Autumn Salon, at both of which he showed almost every year until his death. In 1910 he held his first solo exhibition at the Druet Gallery, and won the prize of a stage at Villa Medici. In the two years he spent there, his research led him towards Cubism. In addition to his pictorial work, Lhote was interested in artistic theory. He was one of the founders of La Nouvelle Revue Française, which published his work until 1940.
In 1912 he joined the Section d’Or group, which was close to Cubism, and exhibited at their Salon. In those years he applied the aesthetics of Cubism to scenes from everyday life. His work was interrupted when he was mobilized in 1914 for the Great War. He did not resume his artistic and literary activities until 1917, when he joined the group of artists supported by Léonce Rosenberg and his gallery, L’Effort Moderne, which specialized in promoting Synthetic Cubism.
Lhote was also known and valued for his literary and educational activities. He taught from 1918 at the Notre Dame des Champs Academy and other schools in the city, and in 1922 he founded his own school, the Montparnasse Academy, in addition to the lectures he gave across France and abroad from 1920 onwards.
In 1938 he moved with his wife to a house in Gordes, where they were surprised, along with Marc Chagall, by the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1942 he returned to Paris, where Lhote wanted to resume his work at the school. After the war, he continued to lecture in Belgium, England and Italy, and in 1950, also in Egypt. The influence of his theoretical work became increasingly important in the middle of the century thanks to the books he published, such as Treatise of Landscape Painting (1938), First, the Painting (1942) and Treatise of Figure Painting (1950).
His work on the theory of art took him to Rio de Janeiro in 1952, where he founded a branch of the Montparnasse Academy, as well as São Paulo, Bel Horizonte and Bahía. Back in Paris, his lectures focused on Egyptian art. In 1955 he won the Grand National Painting Prize and was appointed by UNESCO as president of the International Association of Painters, Engravers and Sculptors.
Noemi de Haro