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WALTER FIRPOPuerto Rican 1903 - 2002

The artist's estate

WALTER FIRPOPuerto Rican 1903 - 2002

A painter, writer and poet, Walter Firpo was born in San Juan, on Puerto Rico, in 1903. He worked as a bank clerk in Nice after the First World War and painted and studied art in his spare time, and in 1929 he met Albert Gleizes, a meeting that was to be the great turning point of his life. Gleizes was so impressed with the young artist’s talent that he decided to exhibit alongside him, and became both his master and his friend. Gleizes subsequently wrote of their initial encounter that “the foundation of our immediate friendship was shared spiritual views”.

From 1931 onwards, Firpo began to exhibit independently in Nice. During the 1930s he maintained a friendship with Giorgio de Chirico, Henri Matisse, André Lhote and Sonia Delaunay. In 1946 he revived his friendship with Albert Gleizes and from 1950 to 1953 he settled in a Protestant Community, painting largely religiously inspired works. In 1952 he exhibited with Matisse, who said about Firpo: “I see your beautiful works hanging on the wall, they have been warmed up by the sun of Marseilles”.

In 1955 Galerie Jeanne Castel held a retrospective of Firpo’s work which was followed by another at La Galerie du Colisée in 1961. Further exhibitions of his work were held at the Galerie Merenciano, Marseilles in 1968 and at the Museum of Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1969, the latter being a commissioned exhibition on the theme of “the daily life of a harbour”.

Firpo’s small and highly coloured paintings reflect the artist’s desire for intimacy, allowing the art work to bloom slowly in the spectator’s mind, and, as a great colourist, using saturated tones to reveal the light in the fragmented forms.