Gaston Goor, “Homere et les Bergers (Homer and the Shepherds)”, 1940, Oil on Panel, 81.3 x 119.4 cm, Private Collection
Born in Lunéville, the capital city of Lorraine in October of 1902, Gaston Goor was a highly accomplished, albeit controversial, French illustrator, painter, muralist and sculptor. He is best known for his illustrations in “Amitiés Particulières (Special Friendships)” and other works by French writer and diplomat Roger Peyrefitte, his primary patron.
The son of Auguste Léon Goor and Marie Angèle Berthe Becker, Goor entered the École des Beaux-Arts at the age of seventeen. He left his native province in 1925 to travel to Paris where he worked in the studio of painter and writer Amédée Ozenfant. In 1917, Ozenfant and painter Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, had founded the doctrine of Purism, a style of art in which elements are represented as robust simplified forms with minimal detail. Through his association with Ozenfant and Le Corbusier, Goor was introduced to modern art and prominent artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Jean Lurçat, best known for his tapestries.
During his stay in Versailles, Gaston Goor was introduced by poet André Salmon to author André Gide who guided him to the profession of illustrator. Working with Capitole Editions, Gore became a prominent artist and created illustrations for forty volumes under that title. He created illustrations for Léon Daudet’s “Écrivains et Artistes”, Henry de Montherlant’s “L’Etoile du Soir”, Lucien Daudet’s “Le Voyage de Shakespeare”, and François Mauriac’s “Hommes Devant Dieu”. Goor also provided illustrations for both the Horizons de France and the Trianon editions.
In 1929, Goor was commissioned to produce decorative work for the Colonial Exhibition in Paris. After a study trip to Morocco, he returned Versailles where he worked briefly for its Department of Fine Arts before locating to the resort town of Hyères where his family had settled. Goor’s nude studies of the young model Jean Joerimann caught the attention of writer Jean Renaud Icard who gave him an exhibition in his Lyon gallery. After the exhibition, Goor received a commission to illustrate Icard’s latest book “Mon Page”.
In the 1930s, Gaston Goor received private commissions, both illustrative and decorative, from wealthy clients and art collectors. Among these prominent men was the owner of a large luxury hotel in Hyères, who was the father of Jean Joerimann, the model for the “Mon Page” illustrations and an unreciprocated love interest for Goor. In 1942, he received a commission from architect Maurice Novarina to create murals for the Church of Douvaine in the Auvergne-Rhõne-Alpes regional city of Haute-Savoie.
While in Haute-Savoie, Goor was accused by German police of helping Jewish people to cross the Swiss border; as a result, he was given ‘voluntary worker’ status and sent to the camp near Zittau in Saxony. Noticed for his talents, Goor was employed as an artist; he remained in the camp until February of 1945 when the city of Dresden was destroyed by Allied bombing. After the war, Goor initially returned to Paris before he moved to Cannes for an exhibition of his work.
There is little information available on the remainder of Gaston Goor’s life. This period was marked by several disappointments, including that his other illustrations for the “Satyricon” were not published. It is known that Goor retired and remained in Hyènes until his death from cancer at the French Riviera city of Toulon on the thirteenth of December in 1977.
Note: Gaston Goor’s illustrations for Volume I and Volume II of Roger Peyrefitte’s
“Les Amitiés Particulières” can be found on E. Neagle’s site “Homo Fabula: At the Intersection of Art & Luterature” located at: https://homofabula.blogspot.com/2017/05/front-free-endpaper-gaston-goor.html
Top Insert Image: Gaston Goor, “Mythological Subject”, 1947, Lead Graphite on Paper, 21 x 27 cm, Catherine Gide Collection
Second Insert Image: Gaston Goor, “The Battle of San Romano after Paulo Ucello”, 1970, Oil and Pastel Highlights on Panel, 94 x 121 cm, Private Collection
Third Insert Image: Gaston Goor, Mougin Vase, “The Fairy of the Water Lilies”, Height 31 cm, Private Collection
Bottom Insert Image: Gaston Goor, “Eros and Hymenaeus”, 1949, Oil on Canvas, 37 x 45 cm, Private Collection