Henri-Georges Adam, Untitled, 1957
Engraving included in the 500 copies of Adam, Oeuvre Gravé
Initially working as a painter, in the early 1930s, following an accident, Henri-Georges Adam changed direction. He took up engraving (the rudiments of which he had learned from his father), and abandoned painting for sculpture. He also designed monumental tapestries, always in shades of black and white.
Henri-Georges Adam, Le Christ aux Oliviers
As a printmaker, Henri-Georges Adam also insisted on the purity of black and white, and only used one tool, the engraver's burin. An anarchist and a pacifist, Henri-Georges Adam first distinguished himself as an engraver with a series of prints expressing his outrage at the Spanish Civil War, Désastres de la guerre.
Henri-Georges Adam, Anteros
In 1936 he joined the Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists, along with Maurice Estève, Alfred Manessier, Édouard Pignon, and Arpad Szenes. It may have been Pignon who brought Adam to the attention of Picasso, who encouraged him, and after WWII lent him his studio in the rue des Grands-Augustins and a house near Gisors. In 1943 Adam, Pignon, and Manessier were three of the founders of the clandestine Salon de Mai, which was in effect the artistic wing of the French Resistance.
Henri-Georges Adam, Vers dorés
In 1959 Henri-Georges Adam was appointed Professor of Engraving at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and was later also made Professor of Monumental Sculpture. In 1966 there was a major retrospective of Adam's work at the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris. The following year, still at the height of his powers and productivity, Henri-Georges Adam died of a sudden heart attack, near Perros-Guirec in Brittany. He is buried in the cemetery of Mont-Saint-Michel.
Henri-Georges Adam, Artemis
At his death, Henri-Georges Adam left unpublished a major series of engravings, designed to illustrate Les Chimères by Gérard de Nerval. Executed between 1947 and 1950 for a proposed edition to be published by Bordas, this abandoned project was eventually published posthumously in 1971 by Les Bibliophiles de Provence, in an edition of 200 copies plus 40 suites.
Henri-Georges Adam, Le Christ aux Oliviers V
Engraving on three cut-out plates, 1950
Henri-Georges Adam, Anteros
Engraving on seven cut-out plates, 1950
Some of the plates are pure illustrations, while others brilliantly incorporate the text of Les Chimères as an integral part of the design. For some, Adam has cut the copper plates into significant shapes, and juxtaposed as many as seven plates on the page to make a single image.
Henri-Georges Adam, Delfica
The dynamic forms and intense cross-hatched blacks of Henri-Georges Adam's nearly-abstract engravings incorporate the lessons of cubism and surrealism seamlessly into the long history of the furrowed line.