Simon-Auguste was a twentieth-century French painter who secured a position in the art world, in utter lack of deference to the trends of the post-war period, thanks to a sure graphic sense and a restrained, intimate sensibility.
Simon-Auguste was born in 1909 into a provençal working-class family, the son of a cabinet-maker.
At the age of twelve, he too had to seek employment to help provide for the family. He first worked at a ceramic factory in Saint-Jean-du-Désert, a neighborhood of Marseille once known for a specialty in that craft, then decorated statues.
In his adolescence Simon-Auguste began taking evening classes at the Marseille School of Fine Arts. At the age of eighteen, with the financial assistance of his older brother, he gave up his position at the factory and enrolled in the School of Fine Arts full time.
The young man graduated in 1931, with a number of prizes in drawing and painting in hand, and the firm intention to become a professional painter.
He moved to Paris and its much larger art world in 1939, and his notoriety progressively began to build, leading to continuous exhibitions in France and abroad in the 1950s and 1960s, despite the fact that he remained well out of step with the artistic directions of the time, which saw the rise to prominence of artists such as Serge Poliakoff, Victor Vasarely, and Jean-Michel Atlan.
Simon-Auguste developed a recognizable style, with elegant, elongated figures (comparisons have been made to Primaticcio and Modigliani), a sense of line that has drawn mentions of Matisse, and a chromatic approach that highlights different shades of blues.
The scenes are nearly always intimate. Simon-Auguste represents nudes in the interior of the studio or of an apartment, fruits or flowers on a table, children reading at a kitchen table, people in a café. “There is a great deal of softness and even tenderness in these subjects without grand gestures, where the interior emotion is everything.” [Jean-Paul Crespelle in France-Soir]
“In a scale of blues, grays, purples and greens, Simon-Auguste suggests harmonies with grave and poetic inflections. the subtility of his vision, his predilection for minor chords and subtle variations allow him to affirm the thousand nuances of emotion that animate the spectacles of human joys and of life itself.” [Jean Rollin in l’Humanité]
Works by Simon-Auguste are held by the Musée des Beaux Arts de Marseille; Musée Carnavalet, Paris; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris; Musée du Château de Sceaux; and the Musée Cantini, Marseille.