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Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau

*  1889 Maisons-Laffitte/Essonne
† 1963 Milly-la-Forêt/Seine-et-Oise

Jean Cocteau was born the son of a wealthy family of lawyers in Maisons-Laffitte near Paris on July 5, 1889. He creates an extensive and versatile oeuvre as an author, painter, film director and choreographer. His work follows contemporary tendencies in art, especially Surrealism, with a great fondness of experimenting.
His father commits suicide when Jean Cocteau is ten years old. As of 1900, he attends a private school, however, he is dismissed in 1904. At the age of 17 he has a love affair with the actress Madeleine Carlier who is thirty years older than him. He gets to know the poets Edouard de Max and Sergej Diaghilew in 1908/09, who both encourage him to produce his own literary work.
Jean Cocteau publishes his first volume of poetry called "Lamp d'Aladin" at the age of 19. The ballet "Parade", for which Cocteau wrote the libretto, premiers in Paris in 1917. The music was written by Eric Satie and Pablo Picasso was in charge of both stage and costume design.
Jean Cocteau continues working together with other artists after the war. He founds the publishing house "Editions de la Sirene", which releases his own poetry as well as numerous music works by, for example, Igor Strawinsky, Eric Satie or the group of composers "Les Six".
The volume of poetry called "Le Cap de Bonne-Espérance" is released in 1919. The same year Jean Cocteau meets the fifteen year old Raymond Radiguet, with whom he has a homosexual affair. He sees his talents as a writer, but his own work is also strongly inspired by the relationship with Radiguet. They start the magazine "Le Coq" in 1920, for which they can also elate the composer Georges Auric, the writer Paul Morand as well as the painter Roger de la Fresnay and the Dada artist Tristan Tzara. Raymond Radiguet dies of typhus at a very young age in 1923, the sorrow over his death leads to Cocteau's opium addiction.
Jean Cocteau makes his first film "Le Sang d'un poète" in 1930, others follow. In 1937 he meets the actor Jean Marais who is almost 25 years younger than him, he becomes his partner and also plays in several of Cocteau's films.
Jean Cocteau is accepted into the Belgian Academy of Arts in 1954 and into the French in 1955. He dies in Milly-la-Forêt on October 11, 1963. Some of his works were posthumously exhibited at the "documenta 3" in Kassel.