Toussaint, St. Pierre

About the Artist

St. Pierre – (St. Pierre Toussaint) – St. Pierre was born in 1923 and died in 1985. For most of his life he was a farmer and began painting only in 1972, when, according to Ute Stebich in her biography of him in the 1978 catalog of her landmark show at the Brooklyn Museum, he was inspired to paint by watching his neighbor, the artist Michelle Manuel. According to Michelle, St. Pierre was constantly filching her children’s art supplies until she bought him some of his own. He painted in and outside of a modernistic rough stone structure on the Kenscoff road. The studio was built for him by his patron, the renowned Haitian architect Albert Mongones; it was circular with glassless windows all around and around opening at the very top to let in additional light. It was quite an avant-garde structure for the neighborhood which consisted mainly of peasant huts made of mud with thatched roofs. The studio was surrounded by his carefully cultivated fields of vegetables. He was an energetic and lively man, said to have been married to a hounsi, a dancer at vodou ceremonies. Ute Stebich wrote “Once when I visited him, a loud clap of thunder boomed overhead. He winked and me and said with a big smile, “Cousin Zaca!”, referring to the vodou god of agriculture.”

St. Pierre was a true untrained naive expressionist who was, during his life, disdained by the art establishment in Haiti as decorative. In fact his dismissal by established galleries may have been attributed to the fact that St. Pierre sold his work directly to the public from his studio, bypassing the middlemen.

He has since become recognized as an important artist. A triptych of his was included in the Brooklyn Museum show and his work is appreciated for its originality and joyful energy by discerning collectors world-wide.

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