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Fleury Joseph CRÉPIN (1875-1949)

Born on February 8, 1875, in Pas-de-Calais, Fleury Joseph Crépin was a French painter associated with the spiritualist artists’ group in the Nord region at the beginning of the 20th century.

Crépin initially worked as a plumber. After World War I, he settled in Pantin with one of his brothers before returning to Montigny, still working as a plumber-roofer.

In the 1930s, he discovered spiritualism, initiated by Victor Simon, a medium, painter, clairvoyant and friend of Augustin Lesage. Convinced of his powers, Crépin became a healer using his hands and various breathing techniques.

His involvement in spiritualism led him towards art. He began drawing and painting at the age of 63, with his first graphite and colored pencil drawing in 1938. In 1939, a voice told him to paint 300 paintings to stop the war. Throughout his creative process, he asserted that his hands were guided by entities he understood to be guardian angels. The 300th painting was created on May 7, 1945.

“In 1940, I was told that I would have created 45 marvelous paintings after the war, so I started this series 8 days ago. I’m actually counting on the 1949 exhibition and hope for great success because, according to one I just finished in high relief, it is marvelous,” he wrote to Dubuffet in a letter dated November 3, 1947. Later in November, Crépin’s paintings were exhibited at the inaugural exhibition of the Foyer de l’Art Brut, where two of his works were acquired by André Breton. Crépin then participated in several other exhibitions related to the art brut movement, both individually and as part of a group.

On November 3, 1948, he worked on painting number 44. He passed away on November 10, leaving paintings number 44 and 45 forever unfinished.

© Photo Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne