Le rendez-vous de Sanmarquande
Gérard Lattier, "Le rendez-vous de Sanmarquande", 1984, Oil, 135 x 126 cm, Photo : Christian Bérard, Atelier de numérisation ¬- Ville de Lausanne Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Lattier, Gérard, (1937), France
Gérard Lattier (1937) was born in Nîmes, in the Gard département in the South of France. In 1944 his father was killed during an Allied bombing raid, leaving his mother virtually destitute. After graduating from vocational high school he found work as a cleaner for the City of Nîmes, but when he was twenty and refused to fight in Algeria, he ended up in prison, where he began to paint. His pictorial record of that time is one of hallucinatory cruelty, "monstrous monsters", skeletons and tortured, emaciated bodies.
In 1965 a temporary bout of near-blindness brought on a nervous breakdown. That same year, he met Annie; they married and a son was born the following year. Lattier recovered his sight and went back to painting, abandoning oils, Indian ink and etching in favour of gouache, while gradually turning to new subjects and a more marked narrative dimension. Writing in both patois and French, he began inserting texts, often humorous and increasingly long, based on stories he had made up or illustrated. He also created ex-votos – some of them commissioned – dedicated to various saints and circumstances.
Gérard Lattier now began using canvas mounted on wooden panels, to which he would add other panels as needed. He became a public storyteller and a repository of popular beliefs, legends and news items from the neighbouring Ardèche département and elsewhere. Employed as a painter at City Hall in Nîmes, he received several public commissions during the 1980s and 1990s, notably for the story of the Beast of Gévaudan, illustrated with forty-two large paintings.