Jean Philippe Dallaire

Still Life with Grapefruit, 1953

oil on canvas
12x13.5 in.

You know that for the first few days after a Canadian arrives in Paris, he feels completely disoriented, because you can see so many exhibits in Paris that you become more and more influenced. And you can draw on all these influences to make endless progress. Since I arrived, I have tried Cubism, abstraction, realism, and then Cubism again. You shouldn’t be afraid of being influenced. The mistake that Canadians make is to want a Canadian form of painting.

– Dallaire in a letter to friend Henri Heyendal, May 1, 1940 (1)

Jean Dallaire took influence from many different facets of culture, from theatre and mythology to the European Cubists and Surrealists that he was exposed to in Paris in the late 1930s. In 1940, he was taken as a prisoner of war during German occupation of Paris, which many historians suggest must have added to the sardonic, and somewhat ominous qualities we often see in his work (2). Still Life With Grapefruit reveals the artist’s fine skills as a designer, and his clear Cubist influence. Dallaire’s command of colour and shape produce a composition that is theatrical and spontaneous despite its basis in still objects.

1. Michel Vincent Chef, Jean Phillips Dallaire, The Canadian Encyclopedia,, accessed May 10, 2022
2. Kenneth Lefolli and Elizabeth Kilbourn, Great Canadian Painting: A Century of Art, p. 89

Jean-Philippe Dallaire was born in Hull, Quebec, 1916. Between 1932 and 1935, he studied art at Hull Technical School and at the Central Technical School in Toronto under a number of teachers. In 1938-39, he continued his studies, first at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, then at the Ateliers…