Georges Folmer was born in 1895 in Nancy. At the age of 15, he enrolled at the Art School of his native town where he studied painting, sculpture and architecture for the next three years. During the outbreak of war, he happened to be in Germany, where he was imprisoned. He put his enforced idleness to good use by painting the scenery for a small theatre organised by the prisoners, who included well-known artists such as Etievant and Lucien Nat, the future star of the Baty theatre. After that, Folmer was sent as a prisoner on parole to Geneva, where he quickly became a student at the Art School. He spent a year there before the hazards of war took him to Algeria. Delighting in the light he found there, he discovered the colours which he used in his paintings during his travels in both Algeria and Tunisia.
Once the war was over, he decided against returning to Nancy and settled instead in Paris in 1919, where he became a regular exhibitor at, and then a member of, the Salons des Indépendants d’automne and at the Tuileries. In order to earn his living, the artist’s eternal problem, he worked in various professions connected with art. This included designing the theatrical costumes for the actor Dullin at the Ibels workshop. This gave him the opportunity to frequent literary and modern art circles, and in 1926 he met Del Marle for the first time, along with members of the Vouloir group, including Lempereur-Haut, who was to become a loyal friend. He continued with his painting whilst at the same time doing wood engraving and enamel work. Critics at the time remarked on his new style – ‘solidity in construction’ and ‘colourful cadence’ - which was his first move towards Cubism: “Thanks be to the Billiet-Vorms Gallery for having revealed the new Georges Folmer to us.”
From the Thirties onwards and without abandoning his Cubist vision, he studied the influence of Cubism in comparison with the first attempts at abstract art. In 1932, he met Auguste Herbin and was attracted by the young ‘Abstraction-Creation’ movement. He continued developing his studies and his practical and technical research work on the Section d’Or and on the harmonic division of space, split up into different planes. In 1935, he exhibited at the first Salon d’Art mural alongside Delaunay, Gleizes and Kandinsky. From then on, he totally expressed ‘non-imitative plastic art’, according to Del Marle’s definition. In 1939 his work was shown together with that of Frédo-Sides at the Galerie Charpentier at the still-famous event which included all the non-representational artists of the time. This event was the precursor of the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles which opened in 1946 after the war. Georges Folmer exhibited there regularly until 1972 and from 1947 onwards he showed his spatial constructions and his paintings on canvas. Before that, in 1942, he had created a new technique for his drawings, which he called ‘Monotypes,’ involving the superimposing of various printing inks applied with rollers or tools he devised himself. In 1949 at the Café du Globe he, Gorin, Servanes and Beothy were among the first nine artists who, at Del Marle’s initiative, made preparations for forming what was to become the Groupe Espace, whose famous manifesto he signed in 1952.
Direct from the estate of the artist
Georges Folmer (1895-1977): Catalogue raisonné, Comité Georges Folmer, Paris,
Illustria Librairie des Musées, 2015, cat no.461, illus. p.135